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Resemiotising text meanings. The UK Law Commission and the summary of consultation paper on surrogacy


Modern legislative drafting theory urges legislative drafters in common law jurisdictions to bare the text from preliminary provisions and to start as early as possible with the regulatory message that the government is trying to convey to citizens. In line with the present legislation needs, the UK Law Commission Annual Report 2018-2019 states that “We have a statutory duty to promote the reform of the law and continue to work hard in this area”, alongside the production of graphics, infographics, images and pictures “to explain in plain English each new law reform project”. In this paper, O’Halloran et al.’s 2016 concept of intersemiotic translation, which takes place within and across the semiotic products or artefacts resulting from resemiotisation processes (Iedema 2003), provides the theoretical basis for the research conducted on the UK Summary of Consultation Paper “Building Families Through Surrogacy. A New Law” (2018-2019). From the analysis of the semiotic resources deployed in the Summary, it is possible to see how they function as system of meanings (i.e. experiential, logical, interpersonal and textual) and are processed at various levels (Halliday 1978, 2013; Halliday, Hasan 1985; Halliday, Matthiessen 2014). As the analysis shows, the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission develop an innovative cultural/informative communication to propose a law reform project, and deploy different semiotic resources to construct a layman’s experience of the world, and the interpersonal relations, through a resemiotisation process.