The role of emails and covering letters in negotiating a legal contract: A case study from Turkey

Anthony Townley, Alan Jones

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Negotiation is fundamental to legal practice. Previous analyses of this important interactional and discursive process have often focused on negotiation as a form of bargaining carried on by business people. In this case study we examine legal negotiation of a commercial contract undertaken primarily by two counterpart lawyers; one based in Istanbul and the other in London. These lawyers are centrally concerned with reaching mutual agreement on the terms and conditions of a particular Distribution Agreement through the exchange of a small set of emails and covering letters recording the negotiations. These two genres help to stabilise and progress the negotiation process and account for negotiation activities recorded in successive marked-up drafts of the Distribution Agreement. We use Swalesian analyses of functional Moves and Steps to identify structural similarities and differences between the documents. We also identify certain salient discursive features of these documents and the use of the Track Changes software function and mark-up to negotiate proposed changes within the contract. Intertextuality and discursive hybridity emerge as important dimensions of all of these text types. Our findings should contribute to developing more authentic English for Legal Purposes (ELP) pedagogies for law students and legal practitioners.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)68-81
    JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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