Feb 2015: Workshop – Interdisciplinary Approaches to Regulating Innovation Workshop (S99)



18 February 2015

Council Chamber, Glamorgan Building

Organised by Dr Atina Krajewska and Dr Nicky Priaulx

(School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University)


The Workshop’s title is a paraphrase of Roger’s Brownsword book ‘Regulating Technologies’ and it is based on a similar idea. It aims at bringing together experts from different disciplines and generating discussion about the relationship between innovation, law, and science and technology.

The workshop seeks to capture different modes of innovation and their inextricably intertwined relationship: innovation in law/regulation and innovation in science. Law is usually seen as static and slow-moving normative system which struggles to keep up with the fast-moving and ever accelerating area of science and scientific advances (some of which are aimed at regulating our behaviour and our future). This apparent dissonance is usually perceived as extremely controversial especially in areas of medicine and environment; concerns highlighted here include the existence of regulatory gaps or regulatory unintended consequences that can leave actors without a source of authoritative guidance or even inhibit innovation in science and technology. In both of these representations, law is depicted as an important source for managing innovation – addressing questions around the permissibility of certain controversial technologies, techniques, and practice to those concerning justice and access to innovative treatments and medicines. Therefore, like scientists, legislators are put under pressure to invent new forms of regulatory responses to new challenges. In addition, an increasing focus by socio-legal scholars on interdisciplinary conversations to inform areas traditionally regulated by law has also led to innovative approaches in reanalysing the role that law rather than softer forms of governance should play.

The problem of regulating innovation has been extensively explored in literature (especially in the area of environmental protection or patent law). However, as the recent heated discussions revolving around the (Saatchi) Medical Innovation Bill or the launch of the personal genome service in the UK by the American company 23andMe demonstrate we are far from reaching satisfactory solutions in the area of biomedical law and regulation. As new scientific and technological innovation enter the field of medicine, lawyers, social scientists, and ethicists need to continue engaging in discussions with scientists and health care professionals to strengthen the theoretical and conceptual framework for further analysis.


The main purpose of this workshop is to bring together scientists (biomedical scientists, geneticists, and/or pharmacists), health care professionals, social scientists, philosophers, ethicists, and legal theorists to analyse the scope and limits of regulatory innovation in the area of scientific/technological innovation. The Workshop should be seen as an opportunity to begin and/or continue a conversation between scholars representing different disciplines at Cardiff University and the GW4 alliance having similar research interests. As such we envisage it as a less formal discussion about current issues, which, if successful, could take a more institutionalised form in future.

The Workshop will focus on the following questions:

1)      What is innovation? How is it defined in science and law/regulation?  Is innovation the ultimate (self-perpetuating) goal?

2)      What are the biggest challenges for innovation in science and law/regulation?

3)      How is law implicated in different contexts as a promoter or inhibitor of innovative technologies?

4)      What is the role of law in regulating innovation? And vice versa, how does technological innovation affect regulatory innovation (e.g. the role of digitization in norm-setting processes and law formation)?

5)      What voices are important in the context of policy debates around innovation? Which voices are afforded priority in such debates?

6)      To what extent does policy debate and media coverage around innovation (in law and science/technology) reflect accurate representations of science, technology and law?

As the area is very broad we have identified several themes linked to recent advances in medical sciences which have captured public attention.



To ensure time for discussion, speakers are kindly asked to keep their presentations to max. 15 min.


12.00 – 13.30 – Session I: Innovation in medical treatment – the ‘Saatchi Bill’

Chairs: Nicky Priaulx and Atina Krajewska

Professor Bernadette Richards (Law, University of Adelaide) – innovation in medical treatment and surgical procedures (comment on the Saatchi Bill) – Australian perspective

Dr Oliver Quick (Law, University of Bristol) – patient safety and the regulation of medical innovation – the role and limits of law

13.30 – 13.45 – Coffee break

13.45 – 15.45 Session II: How much innovation in science, medicine, and law?

Chair: Adam Hedgecoe

Dr Rebecca Dimond (Sociology, Cardiff University) – innovation in communication strategies in mitochondrial DNA disorders

Professor Angus Clark and Dr Marion McAllister (Genetics, Cardiff University) – innovative approaches to genetic testing and counselling

Heather Strange (Sociology, Cardiff University) – patients’ voices – sociological perspective on non-invasive pre-natal diagnosis

Dr Naomi Hawkins (Law, University of Exeter) – socio-legal perspective on patenting non-invasive prenatal diagnosis

15.45 – 16.00 – Coffee break


16.00 – 17.30 – Session III: Innovation in law and regulation

Chair: Cliona Kelly

Dr Luke McDonagh and Prof Phil Johnson – regulating innovation – lessons that can be learned from patent law?

Chris Goldsworthy (Sociology, Cardiff University) – Coronial practice and an evaluation of the role that legal (and other) norms play in the uptake of innovative technologies for identifying SADS

17. 30 – Conclusions


19.00 – Workshop dinner