XVI International Conference of the International Association for Legal Methodology (bORDEAUX, jUNE 25th-26th)

XVI International Conference of the International Association for Legal Methodology

Bordeaux, 25-26 June 2020


“Law and Facts / Le droit et les faits”

The International Association of Legal Methodology and the Institut de recherche Montesquieu (University of Bordeaux) are issuing a call for presentations on the theme “Law and Facts / Le droit et les faits” at the International Conference to be held on 25 and 26 June 2020 at the Faculty of Law and Political Science of the University of Bordeaux in Bordeaux (France).


The distinction between law and facts is a commonplace subject that continues to attract the interest of legal scholars. The views on the relation between Law and facts are sometimes contradictory: some criticize the tendency to adapt Law to social facts or even to deduce legal rules from said facts, while others reconcile the two going so far as to entertain the notion that law is a social fact. Nonetheless, legal reasoning draws a sharp distinction between Law and facts and interprets social facts through the eye of the law. These attempts at reconciliation can be surprising as almost everything opposes them: unlike Law and norms, facts happen only once and never repeat themselves. Facts are part of a present that is quickly over, whereas Law provides for the future by rule and closes the past by decisions and sanctions. Facts are unique, enclosed in a deep singularity and difficult to grasp, while Law is a shape that must encompass the diversity of facts.

Everything, however, permanently opposes facts and Law. On the one hand, facts “never stand still” and extend beyond the legal framework and, on the other hand, Law leaves an indelible mark on reality.

The next AILM convention seeks to explore these different points of intersection between Law and facts.

Facts as a source of norms

• Looking back at customs and practices in the 21st century. The practices that develop within a community or social group are likely to generate norms and frame future behaviour in an original way that is different from other social artefacts such as culture and language: where do disciplines such as anthropology and ethnography stand today with regard to the various modes of social regulation and their relationship to Law? What is the topicality of these normative sources in a time of increasingly globalized Western legal traditions?

• Revolutions or when facts have their revenge on Law. Law is not immune to social facts. As a consequence, one can arguably conceive revolutions that affect societies, whether they be social, cultural or political in nature, as turning points that reveal the profoundly factual nature of the law. What function do revolutionary “facts” play in the constitution of normative orders?

• The emergence of normative facts. Certain facts give rise, by their simple occurrence, to legal consequences. Objective liability, for example, bypasses several traditional mechanisms of legal reasoning (such as fault) to generate legal consequences: what ground? Enclosed land is another example. On what grounds are these situations treated separately? Are some facts “normative?” Conversely, could legal presumptions and fictions be interpreted as a refusal to allow certain facts to bring about the legal consequences that would otherwise occur?

Facts as a source of interpretation of norms

The consideration of social facts and cultural artifacts in legal reasoning can be seen as a recognition of the interdependence between norms and facts:

 The facts in legal reasoning. Social facts are often taken into consideration in legal reasoning: in what capacity? Are they potentially interpretative constraints? What place do they have in the discourse of lawyers and scholars? Do they interact in the balancing of legal rules?

• The facts in jurisdictional reasoning. Facts are assessed by judges who categorize and select them in order to define the “case” that will have to be addressed. How are these cases constructed? What role do the parties to a proceeding play in the construction of these cases? In constitutional Law, one can ask what control do the constitutional courts have over legislative facts?

• Facts as a measure and the “intelligence” of the law. Do the complexity and singularity of facts constitute obstacles to the use of artificial intelligence in law? Do the predictability of court decisions and actuarial tools open up a reign of quantifiable and measurable facts? Can Law, like facts, be measured?

Directives for the Proposals 

Interested participants must submit send their written proposal before February 1, 2020. Proposals must have a bilingual title, contain a short summary (between 100 and 150 words) in French or English and mention the name and affiliation of the author. 

Proposals should be sent to the following email address: 


Selected participants will be invited to contribute to a collective publication. Although a proposal can discuss other issues than the ones described above, the scientific committee can give preference to proposals more directly related to these specific topics. Resources permitting, financial support may be offered to scholars who wish to participate. 

Scientific Committee: 

Nader Hakim Mathieu Devinat Jean-Yves Chérot Alexandra Popovici
ProfessorUniversité de Bordeaux President of the IALM ProfessorUniversité de Sherbrooke ProfessorUniversité d’Aix-Marseille ProfessorUniversité de Sherbrooke

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