Constitution of the International Association of Forensic Linguists
Article 1. MISSION OF THE ASSOCIATION
The purpose of this Association is to improve the functioning of legal systems throughout the world by means of inculcating a better understanding of the interaction between language and the law. More specifically, the Association aims to promote:
The study and analysis of the language used in the law, including the language of legal documents and texts; legal discourse; and the language used in courts, other adjudicative bodies, law-making bodies, policing, and the penal system.
Application of linguistics-based knowledge to issues and problems that may affect legal systems or be adjudicated within legal systems.
Alleviation of language-based inequality and disadvantage in legal systems and institutions, including issues involving legal interpreting and legal translation.
The interchange of ideas and information between the legal and linguistics communities.
Research regarding best practices and professional ethical standards in expert testimony on linguistics-based issues and in other forms of presentation of linguistics evidence and knowledge in legal systems and to legal institutions.
Promotion of better public understanding of the interaction between language and the law.
Promotion of practices and policies designed to make legal practices and institutions more accurate, fair, and equitable, serving the public interests.
Article 2. MEMBERSHIP IN THE ASSOCIATION
a. Persons who are current with their dues are members of the Association. Dues rates and categories of membership are set by the Executive Committee, at its discretion. Dues rates can include discounted dues for any cognizable category of member for whom the Executive Committee decides by majority vote that paying full annual dues would be inappropriate; including, but not limited to, student dues rates. The Executive Committee may, at its discretion, establish multi-year membership dues rates, lifetime membership dues rates, and institutional dues rates.
b. Membership privileges include being entitled to vote in elections for members of the Executive Committee, to stand for election as members of the Executive Committee, to vote on matters referred by the Executive Committee to the membership, and to vote on amendments to or replacement of the Association’s Constitution. Members receive a discounted registration rate for Association-sponsored conferences and events. Graduate student members are eligible to apply, on a competitive basis, for bursaries to reduce conference registration fees. The Executive Committee may establish additional privileges reserved to members, including exclusive access to informational resources on Association websites or other information portals.
c. Failure to pay dues in a timely manner will result in loss of membership in the Association. Persons whose memberships have lapsed because of non-payment of dues can regain membership by paying dues, and, on payment, will be reinstated to full membership privileges for the period in which the now-paid dues pertain.
Article 3. MEETINGS, CONFERENCES, AND EVENTS
a. The Executive Committee shall arrange a meeting of the Association, which will occur once every two years except in extraordinary circumstances. This biennial meeting will normally be held in conjunction with a conference of the Association, and ordinarily will feature live presentations and sessions. The biennial meeting may include electronic dissemination of presentations and sessions in addition to or in place of live presentations, as circumstances warrant.
b. Agenda of the biennial meeting shall include a report by the Executive Committee officers to the membership on the state of the Association. A summary of this report shall be provided to the membership using a means likely to inform the membership unable to attend the biennial meeting of the substance of the report.
c. The Association may also sponsor or co-sponsor conferences and events in addition to the biennial meeting and conference. Such sponsored conferences and events may include regional conferences or conferences with a specific topical or methodological focus, and events such as competitions, lectures, symposia, workshops, etc.
Article 4. ELECTION OF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS
a. Criteria for election to the Executive Committee:
b. Method of election of Executive Committee members:
c. Announcement of election results:
d. Transition from former to succeeding Executive Committees:
Article 5. DUTIES OF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OFFICERS AND MEMBERS-AT-LARGE
The Association’s Executive Committee includes the following officers: President, Vice President, Executive Secretary, Communications Officer, and Treasurer. Each serves a term of two years. The Vice President becomes President automatically at the conclusion of the term of the preceding President. Neither the Vice President nor the President can be re-elected to any position on the Executive Committee; the other officers may be re-elected to their positions to a second term or may stand for election to another position on the Executive Committee.
The President represents the Association to the outside world and to other associations and organizations congruent with the mission of the Association, and is responsible for the overall operation of the Association and its activities in furtherance of the mission of the Association.
The Vice President collaborates with the President in these functions, and will assume the Presidency at the expiration of the President’s term.
The Treasurer is in charge of the Association’s finances and disbursements, and reports to the membership on the financial condition of the Association, normally at the biennial meeting.
The Executive Secretary is in charge of maintaining minutes of Executive Committee meetings and actions, maintaining records of Association membership, being the liaison with the incorporation officers, and assisting the Communications Officer in communications with the outside world.
The Communications Officer is in charge of communication with the Association membership and of publicizing the existence and activities of the Association to the outside world.
c. Immediate past president:
d. Replacement of Executive Committee members:
If, for any reason, an officer of the Executive Committee or member-at-large is unable to perform the duties of their position, either temporarily or permanently, the Executive Committee by majority vote will appoint a replacement to serve out the duration of the period in which the member cannot fulfill the duties of their position. Any Executive Committee officer or member-at-large can inform the Committee that they are unable to perform the duties of their position, and thereby trigger the replacement process for that position by the Executive Committee. A majority vote of the Executive Committee determining that a member-at-large or officer cannot fulfill the duties of their position will also trigger the replacement appointment process.
If a member-at-large is unable to perform their duties on the Executive Committee within the first two years of their term, the Executive Committee is empowered to choose a replacement to serve out the duration of the first two years of their term, but shall declare the position open for election at the next biennial election for membership election according to the ordinary election rules.
If the Vice President is unable to fulfill the duties of the position, the Executive Committee will appoint a replacement to serve out the duration of the period in which the Vice President is unable to fulfill the duties of the position. However, the appointed replacement will not accede to the Presidency automatically, and the President’s position will be voted on in the next scheduled vote for the Executive Committee, governed by the ordinary election rules. If the Vice President regains the ability to perform the functions of the position prior to the expiration of their term as Vice President, the Vice President will accede to the Presidency as normally provided under this Constitution.
If the President is unable to fulfill the duties of the position, the Vice President will accede to the remainder of the President’s term, or to that portion of the term in which the President is unable to fulfill their duties. In either event, the Vice President becomes President in their own right upon the expiration of the President’s term of office.
Any member of the Executive Committee may resign their position at any time within their term of office; a resignation of an officer or of a member-at-large is treated identically to the rules regarding replacement of Committee members unable to fulfill their duties.
Article 6. POWERS OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
a. General powers:
The Executive Committee collectively is responsible for the day-to-day operations and activities of the Association. The Committee may implement policies and practices consistent with those responsibilities, including authorizing the disbursement of funds of the Association for these purposes.
The Executive Committee has discretion to employ outside contractors as needed to fulfill the mission of the Association and to facilitate the smooth, efficient, and lawful operation of the Association. The Executive Committee, consistent with sound accounting practices, has the power to authorize an external audit of the Association’s finances on a biennial basis.
Executive Committee business may be conducted in person, electronically, or by written exchange of memoranda. Actions by the Executive Committee may be undertaken after consensus is reached regarding the action. Any member of the Executive Committee can call for a vote of the Executive Committee prior to action taken by the Committee. If a vote is conducted, the action taken shall require a majority vote of the Committee members. Minutes of Executive Committee meetings, including actions taken, shall be retained and provided to current and future members of the Executive Committee; however, the minutes shall not include the positions taken by individual Executive Committee members on any vote held.
The Executive Committee is also empowered to put a matter to a vote of the membership, on an advisory or a binding basis. The Executive Committee, in the event of setting a vote by the membership, shall implement a voting procedure designed to permit the maximum feasible voting participation by the membership, while preserving election integrity.
b. Committee appointment:
c. Selection of biennial meeting and Association-sponsored regional meeting hosts:
The Executive Committee is charged with the selection of the hosts and sites for the biennial meeting and any regional meetings or specialized conferences under sole sponsorship of the Association. The Executive Committee may issue a set of guidelines and requirements for hosts who wish to bid for such meetings, and shall publicize these on the Association website or by other means calculated to communicate with institutions and organizations that may wish to bid to host.
The Executive Committee may also appoint a sub-committee to answer queries and review bids to host Association-sponsored meetings and conferences. That sub-committee, if appointed, will make recommendations to the Executive Committee. However, the final decision will be made by majority vote of the full Executive Committee, with the exception of the immediate past president unless a tie-breaking vote is needed. If an Executive Committee member is currently affiliated with a bidding host institution, that member shall recuse themselves from any votes taken with respect to that bid.
Once a proposal to host an Association-sponsored meeting or conference is approved by the Executive Committee, the Committee shall appoint an Executive Committee member to serve as a liaison with the host organizing committee. The liaison will report back to the Executive Committee on the progress of the host organizing committee and on any issues that may require Executive Committee consultation or decision-making.
d. Co-sponsorship by the Association of meetings, conferences, or other events:
e. Provision of bursary grants, awards, and honors by the Association:
The Executive Committee is empowered to approve payment of student bursary money to enable graduate student attendance at Association-sponsored or co-sponsored meetings and conferences. The Executive Committee may appoint a sub-committee to determine and publicize the terms of such competitive bursary awards and to select the recipients. Members of any such sub-committee shall recuse themselves from consideration of a bursary applicant from an institution with which they are currently affiliated.
The Executive Committee may vote to establish prizes, fellowships, or honorary titles, at their discretion. Establishment of any such awards shall be made by majority vote of the Executive Committee, and the conferring of any such awards or prizes will likewise be by majority vote of the Executive Committee.
Article 7. AMENDMENT OR REPLACEMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION
a. Procedure for implementing constitutional change:
Amendment or replacement of this Constitution is accomplished by a vote taken of the membership of the Association. Proposed constitutional amendments or replacement may be initiated by the Executive Committee or by a petition signed by at least 10% percent of the membership.
If a proposal for amendment or replacement of the Constitution comes from either the Executive Committee or by membership petition, the proposed change, together with a memorandum explaining the rationale for the proposed change, shall be published by the Association via a means likely to reach the membership. Comments concerning the proposed change shall be collected by the Communications Officer and disseminated by means reasonably calculated to reach the membership. The materials discussing the proposed change shall be available to the membership for at least 60 days prior to any vote on the change.
The Executive Committee is responsible to implement a voting procedure on constitutional change once a proposed change is initiated by the Executive Committee or by a petition signed by at least 10% of the membership. The membership constitutional vote shall be conducted in a manner to permit wide membership participation in the vote, consistent with preserving the integrity of the voting process.
For the amendment or replacement to become effective, the change must be approved by two thirds of the members voting in the constitutional change election. No change will be effective unless a voting quorum of at least 10% of the Association members votes in the constitutional change election.
b. Procedures following a membership vote insufficient to effect constitutional change:
If the voting process does not result in a voting quorum, the proposed change can be re-voted upon no sooner than six months after the failed-quorum vote. A re-vote after a vote with a failed voting quorum will require that either the Executive Committee re-submit the proposed changes for a membership vote or that a petition signed by at least 10% of the members requests a re-vote.
A constitutional change or replacement vote which receives a voting quorum but which fails to be approved by a two thirds majority of the votes cast by members can be re-submitted for a membership vote no sooner than one year after the failed vote if the proposal was approved by a majority of the voters but not the two-thirds required; or no sooner than two years after the failed vote if the proposal was approved by less than a majority of the voters. A re-vote under both these circumstances will require either that the Executive Committee re-submit the proposed changes or that a petition signed by at least 10% of the members requests a re-vote on the proposed changes.
(Last updated: 5 September 2021)