Northumbria Centre for Evidence & Criminal Justice Studies

The Northumbria Centre for Evidence and Criminal Justice Studies (NCECJS) is a nationally renowned research centre. Its mission is to undertake research of value and interest to a wide range of academic and practitioner communities within the legal systems of the UK, and other EU and common law countries.

We live in a globalised, increasingly digital world. While this has enabled major advances for humankind, it has also provided new environments and circumstances for crime to take place such as international crime, cybercrime, human trafficking and modern-day slavery. As the world continues to develop, it is crucial that we stay up-to-speed, that research drives informed policy decisions and that criminal justice systems around the world have the tools they need to address crime. 

The Northumbria Centre for Evidence and Criminal Justice Studies (NCECJS) has a global reputation for international excellence. Research addresses and explores issues/factors such as criminal evidence, expert evidence, youth justice, and law & technology. Its mission is to undertake research of value and interest to a wide range of academic and practitioner communities within the legal systems of the UK, and other EU and common law countries. 

The Centre encourages the exchange of ideas and facilitates collaboration regionally, nationally and internationally. NCECJS brings together Northumbria academics and postgraduate students from a range of disciplines with colleagues from other academic institutions, members of the judiciary, legal practitioners and other major stakeholders in the criminal justice system such as senior police officers and leading expert witnesses. Its reputation is based on an extensive range of academic publications as well as a major programme of externally funded research and significant public engagement activities.

leverhulme logoLeverhulme Lecture Series

Northumbria Law School welcomes Leverhulme Visiting Professor Henry Zhuhao Wang, joining us in May 2024. We are grateful for the support of the Leverhulme Trust in funding this visit.

Henry is currently Tallahassee Alumni Professor at Florida State University College of Law. His research interests include evidential issues, law and technology and comparative Chinese law studies. Whilst at Northumbria Law School, Henry will be delivering a number of sessions open to Law staff, students and the wider academic community, including three Leverhulme lectures.

The following lectures are each hybrid events, and therefore are available to view both in person and online via Microsoft Teams. 

Lecture 1: Evaluating the testimony of expert witnesses.
12th June 2024, CCE1 223A, 13.00 - 14.00 pm 
(and available online via Teams)

The relationship between expert knowledge and the trial pattern will be examined in this lecture. In general, trials are educational events in which the fact finder is expected to comprehend, process, and reflect on the evidence, and to reach rational conclusions as a result (“Education Mode”). This process reflects the fundamental importance of the accuracy and rationality of fact finding at trial, without which rights and obligations are essentially meaningless. However, expert evidence often involves a deferential rather than an educational mode of proceeding and to that extent can be in opposition to the normal aspirations of trials (“Deference Mode”).

This lecture will discuss the Deference Mode on expert testimony’s development process, forming reason and its consequences. The alternative, Education Mode, is advanced in that all evidence should be presented in a way that can be understood and absorbed by the trier of fact if the aspirations of trials are to be realized. If evidence cannot be presented in such a pattern, then the matter to which the evidence is pertinent plausibly cannot be litigated consistent with the normal aspirations of trials.

Click here to register for Lecture 1


Lecture 2: The e-justice revolution in China.
19th June 2024, CCE1 402, 13.00 – 14.00 pm  
(and available online via Teams)

Electronic technologies are rapidly changing the ways that justice can be accessed by and realized in societies across the world. In China, one of the most “old-fashioned and restrained” societies, the Supreme People’s Court of China (SPC) in recent years has actively embraced electronic technologies and made a bold move toward e-justice, leading to the technologizing of civil judicial proceedings across China.  Such an aggressive stance is unprecedented in China and rare in the world, and it thus deserves a closer look. Developments have happened so rapidly that even insiders of the Chinese judicial system could easily lose track of the latest wave of changes as well as their overall magnitude. This lecture discusses four of the latest e-justice developments in Chinese civil judicial proceedings: usage of electronic evidence and blockchain, the nationwide “intelligent court” project, the establishment of internet courts and the asynchronous online court project.

It may be just matter of time before almost all court hearings are held online. But the SPC strategically chose to accelerate the revolution of Chinese judicial proceedings. While it may be still too early to claim any real victory, e-justice in China is beginning to come into its own. Even if some of China’s initiatives prove to be missteps, China is accumulating experience that other countries will be able to look to in attempting to bring their own legal systems into the Digital Age. 

Click here to register for Lecture 2


Lecture 3: New approaches to comparative Chinese law studies.
26th June 2024, CCE1 223a, 13.00 – 14.00 pm
(and available online via Teams)

Chinese law is complicated. From a perspective of comparative study, Chinese law at least has three dimensions. First is the traditional dimension, culture and history, which is deeply intertwined with Confucianism, China’s long history, and the influence of the continental law, Soviet Law and the common law systems in the modern era. The second dimension is law and politics, as China is an authoritarian regime. Chinese law is always in the shadow of and serving for the interest of its ruling authority—the Chinese Communist Party since 1949. The third dimension is development. The policy of “Reform and Opening Up” started an economic miracle in China, making it the second largest economy nowadays in the world, only second to the United States. For about forty years since 1979, massive amounts of capital and “hot money” flowed in and out of the country made China either the birthplace or among front runners of emerging industries like digital and platform economy, cryptocurrencies and NFTs, Metaverse, and auto-drive, etc. These developments were accompanied by enormous legal challenges and numerous new regulations.

This lecture on Comparative Chinese law will briefly touch the first and second dimensions, and then focus on discussing the third dimension.

Four specific subjects to be discussed include:

1) Legal challenges and responses of the Chinese authority to digital economy, Cryptocurrencies, Metaverse and NFTs

2) Regulations on algorithms and data

3) Legal risks and Chinese regulations on auto-drive

4) Private Asset Management and inheritance in China

Click here to register for Lecture 3


Lecture 4: The future of the law of evidence.
Friday 28 June 2024, 2.00pm - 5.00pm the University of Nottingham, Room B55, Law & Social Sciences Building (L&SS)

The crown jewel of the Anglo-American evidence law – the U.S. Federal Rules of Evidence – have been so successful that many people equate them to the whole field of evidence law. But this is a false equivalence. Our world is complicated, diversified, and dynamic. So, too, is evidence law, which is like a rainforest in which the Federal Rules are simply the largest tree, not a forest unto themselves. In fact, the Federal Rules of Evidence are limited in their applicability due to three fundamental assumptions: the presence of a jury trial, an adversarial process, and witness oral testimony. The universe of dispute resolution, however, extends far beyond a contour that is covered by these three assumptions.

This lecture will discuss the dominance of the Federal Rules of Evidence since their launch, explains why the Rules do not fit in numerous dispute-resolution contexts outside common-law jury trials, and shifts attention to three featured alternative evidence systems (whether extant or in draft form) from other parts of the world. These evidence systems look structurally and logically different from the Federal Rules but fit well in their own contexts. Such comparative analysis brings out important evidence-rulemaking themes that are traditionally underexplored by U.S. evidence scholars and legislators.

On the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the Federal Rules of Evidence, evidence law reformers are standing at the crossroads of evidence-law development. I project that its next era will necessitate going back into the forest to explore different sets of evidence rules suitable in different dispute resolution settings. Such a shift will help release evidence law from the traditional trap of the common-law jury, significantly expand space for its continual growth, and further develop the law in a sophisticated, diversified way with built-in flexibility.


Programmes and Events 

The Centre organises an annual seminar programme for researchers and practitioners, as well as national and international conferences or symposia. The majority of events are free of charge and open to non-members, who through participation in such events often become involved in a wider range of the Centre’s activities. 

NCECJS members have attracted research funding from bodies such as The Modern Law Review, the European Commission, the Belgian Ministry of Justice and the Nuffield Foundation. Several of the senior academic members are also are editors or contributors to numerous books and journals in the fields of criminal law, criminal evidence, civil evidence and socio-legal studies (both academic and practitioner) for leading publishers. 


Director | Professor Tony Ward
Deputy Director | A/Prof. Kyriakos Kotsoglou



September 2022 - Final

2020 - Final

September 2018 - Vol. 3 Issue 1

May 2018 - Vol. 2 Issue 2

November 2017 - Vol. 2 Issue 1

October 2016 - Issue 6

April 2016 - Issue 5

January 2016 - Issue 4

November 2015 - Issue 3

October 2015 - Issue 2

October 2015 - Issue 1