BILETA conference 2021

Annual Conference

Our call for abstracts has now closed. Those who submitted abstracts during deadline extension will receive notification of review outcome by Friday 2 April.  Information regarding our conference platform will be posted on this page by Friday 2 April, at which point the programme will also be formalised.  Please note that all presenters must register and pay the conference fee by Friday 9 April.  If you are unsure that your law school or institution is a BILETA member you can check at

Call for Papers
Taken by surprise: (Re-)constituting the critical in an age of digital and pandemic

“Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.”
Albert Camus, The Plague.

Our conference epigraph comes from Camus’ celebrated exploration of plague and its effects on our societies, cultures, histories, our futures, our views of time, economics, values and ethics. It is an appropriate text for us because it describes one of the multiple situations we now find ourselves in
that put our societies under global stress. The present moment of writing, at delivery of vaccines and in the midst of the second wave of Coronavirus, will not be the moment of the conference in 2021; but we shall still be profoundly affected by Covid-19 then and for years to come. As Camus
points out, plague defines us, and how we respond to pandemics describes us with dazzling clarity.

We find ourselves questioning fundamental issues – what constitutes freedom, social responsibility, to whom, when and where. We find ourselves surprised, caught in the double bind of Berlant’s cruel
optimism (Berlant 2011), where those things we most desire can be obstacles to our flourishing.

There are similar parallels in other contemporary political, regulatory and technological dimensions. For those of us in our disUK, Brexit has been an extraordinary political journey that few of us could have foreseen, and which has involved all Europe. Equally coming out of the blue sky has been the rise of right-wing politics and cultures, strong challenges to civic liberal cultures and the rule of law itself. Digital itself bewilders us with its protean shifts and its relentless permeation of our lives and work. It plays key roles in liberating us, misinforming us, regulating us, oppressing us, profoundly
influencing our very foundational concepts of democracy, the good, learning, global economic dependencies, epistemic critique, and epidemic transfer. How can we constitute or re-constitute what it is to be critical of and through technology in such a world? How can we be critical and

All these and many more questions are critical pressures upon government, regulators, professional bodies, researchers and professionals. Our conference will focus attention on the issues in all areas
of technology practice, policy and governance that BILETA deals with as a scholarly body. Our keynote speakers will be addressing them, as will many of the conference papers. Key areas (but the categories are not closed…) include:

• Privacy and surveillance
• Legal education, regulation and technology-enhanced learning
• Intellectual property law and technology
• Digital cultures
• Cybercrime and cybersecurity
• Digital, cloud and Internet regulation and governance
• E-commerce, m-commerce and e-governance
• Telecommunications law and regulation
• Future technologies and law
• Human rights and technology
• Sustainability, energy, technologies and law
• Development and rural challenges

Should you wish to join us by presenting your current or recent research and participating in the ongoing conversation regarding law, technology and education, please do consider submitting a paper. As usual, we intend to publish papers in two journals after the conference – International
Review of Law, Computers and Technology and European Journal of Law and Technology. Register for the conference at the link below.

Conference Arrangements

The 2021 BILETA conference will be online and is supported by University of Newcastle Law School. Conference details:

Conference dates: 14-16 April 2021

Conference administrator: Kirsty Melvin: Should you have any queries regarding online registration, abstract submission, fees or related issues, please contact Kirsty.

Conference organiser: Paul Maharg: Any other queries regarding the conference, please contact Paul

Conference page:

Registration and abstracts submission link: On this page you may register for the conference and pay the appropriate conference fee. Abstracts can be submitted here:

Abstracts deadline: Now extended to Monday 15 March

Review outcome notification: Friday 12 March, for abstracts receive by 1 March; otherwise Friday 2 April

Programme formalised: Friday 2 April, 2021

BILETA AGM: Tuesday 13 April. Information regarding the AGM Zoom call will be posted on our conference page.


  1. BILETA EJLT Prize
    All conference participants are welcome to enter for the BILETA EJLT prize of £250. The winning paper will be submitted to the conference special issue of the European Journal of Law and Technology. Please submit a full paper (maximum 15,000 words, including footnotes) to be by Tuesday 6 April 2021, COB BST.
  2. Postgraduate Prize
    BILETA PG Prize
    To be considered for the BILETA PG prize of £250, please submit a full paper (6-10,000) words, including footnotes) to by Tuesday 6 April 2021, COB BST. Three papers will be chosen to compete for the BILETA PG prize, which will involve defending the work in a conference session, and a conference vote. The three papers will be shortlisted on our conference webpage and will be presented in the dedicated BILETA PG prize session at the conference. Each paper will be presented by a senior academic: the author will have the opportunity to respond to their questions, and
    then the audience (all conference attendees) will have the opportunity to ask questions. To assist in that process, everyone is encouraged to look at the papers in advance, which will be uploaded to the conference website before the conference. Please note that papers submitted to the EJLT Prize are not eligible for consideration for the PG Prize. Please note that unless you are applying to the prize competition you do not need to submit a written paper in advance. We very much hope you will pursue our publications opportunities after the conference, with either the European Journal of Law & Technology or the International
    Review of Law, Computers & Technology.

For the conference flier – see