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Condition Critical


The introduction to the ‘Condition Critical’ symposium explains the background to the series on the climatic and pandemic crises at the beginning of the 2020s. What is the role of the law in times of crisis? How does this force for continuity, predictability and order react to the discontinuity characteristic of disasters? The suspension of the law or its day-to-day operations is a moment of extreme danger, rivalling that of the disaster itself, in the licence it gives to powerful actors, governments and others to exercise unfettered force. Yet it also presents institutions, communities and disruptors with opportunities for reinvention and renewal. In this symposium, legal, political science, clinical psychology, history and sociology researchers investigate critical conditions from pandemic responses and extreme weather to terrorist attacks and parental disputes. Law courts have responded by modifying their operations and applying new technologies. This was observed in the United Kingdom and in cross-border European proceedings. A major terrorist trial in France established new architectural and information and communication technology configurations. Courts and the technologies they use can also cause critical incidents, including the disruption of artificial intelligence applications and the critical condition of the Italian justice system. Research into the Portuguese family courts investigated whether they alleviate or exacerbate disputes over the healthcare of children. Government responses to extreme weather events and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are studied at the intersection of law and politics in Australia. The individualising forces of neoliberal finance and law, and of urban communication technologies are criticised as dysfunctional when crises require solidarity.

Published: 2023-05-30
Pages:90 to 92
Section: Introduction to Condition Critical
How to Cite
Branco, Patrícia, Francesco Contini, and Richard Mohr. 2023. “Condition Critical ”. Law, Technology and Humans 5 (1):90-92.

Author Biographies

Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra
Portugal Portugal

Patrícia Branco is a researcher at the Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra in Portugal (Stimulus for Scientific Employment DL 57/2016/CP1341/CT0023). Patrícia obtained her Doctoral degree in Sociology of Law from the University of Coimbra (2013), an LL.M degree in Legal Theory from the European Academy of Legal Theory (2006), and has a Bachelor degree in Law from the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra (2000). Her research interests include access to law and justice, in a broad perspective; courthouse architecture, spaces of justice and the administration of justice; the relations between law and the humanities; the mutations of family and child law and its connections with gender issues; and family law and food.

Italy Italy

Francesco Contini is senior researcher at the National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Legal Informatics and Judicial Systems ( He studies the institutional transformations of European justice systems focusing on e-justice, case management, performance evaluation and the quality of justice. He collaborates with international organizations to promote judicial reforms in Europe, Africa, and Asia and is regularly called, as invited speaker, at the Italian School of Judges and the European Judicial Training Network.

Social Research, Policy & Planning Pty. Ltd.
Australia Australia

Dr Richard Mohr is an urban and legal sociologist who has worked as coordinator of a community health service (NSW Health) and as a consultant and researcher with Social Research Policy & Planning. Work on the social relations of knowledge led to interdisciplinary teaching in schools of Architecture, History and Philosophy of Science, Sociology, and Law at the University of Sydney, UNSW, University of Wollongong and McGill University. At the University of Wollongong (1992–2015) his roles included research director of the Centre for Court Policy and Administration, director of the Legal Intersections Research Centre, and managing editor of Law Text Culture. He continues as a director of SRPP Pty Ltd, with Dr Margot Rawsthorne as principal. Many of his articles from socio-legal and semiotic journals are at

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2652-4074