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Empirical Research

 

An emerging theme in work on justice reform is the need for hard data on court performance and related issues. Who uses the courts? For what purposes? With what results? How long do cases take? The material on this page provides examples of how researchers in both the developed and developing world have gone about answering such questions.


The Need for Empirical Research Before Initiating Justice Reform

One lesson from U.S. judicial reform efforts is the importance of grounding reform on a solid empirical base. In this paper Deborah Hensler, Stanford Law Professor and former director of the Rand Institute for Civil Justice, describes what can happen when a reform proceeds without such a base. The examples discussed are the introduction of case management into U.S. courts and the adoption of alternative dispute resolution programs.

Henslerspeech

 

Uses of Empirical Research In Refocusing Judicial Reforms: Lessons From Five Countries

Following the democratic opening of the 1980s, Latin Americans took a renewed interest in their court systems and initiated two decades of concerted efforts to improve their performance. This paper by Linn Hammergren assesses the characteristics of these efforts and the outcomes of empirical research.

Henslerspeech

Reforming Courts: The Role of Empirical Research

In partnership with local researchers, the World Bank analyzed a random sample of cases filed in the first instance courts of Mexican and Argentina. The resulting studies revealed that much of what even experts "know" about the operation of Latin American justice systems is incorrect. The findings of each study and the implications for judicial reform are reviewed.

Henslerspeech 

Legal Structure and Judicial Efficiency

This paper uses information gathered from a survey of lawyers in 109 countries to analyze the procedures applicable to hypothetical cases. One where a residential tenant is resisting eviction and a second where a creditor is seeking to collect on a check that has been returned for insufficient funds. In both cases, it is assumed that the opposing party has no valid defense. The authors find that the regulation of dispute resolution is greater in civil than common law countries and that this regulation results in lengthier and more costly proceedings. Suggestions for beneficial reforms are included.

Henslerspeech

Empirical Research and Justice Reform

One lesson from U.S. judicial reform efforts is the importance of grounding reform on a solid empirical base. In this paper Deborah Hensler, Stanford Law Professor and former director of the Rand Institute for Civil Justice, describes what can happen when a reform proceeds without such a base. The examples discussed are the introduction of case management in US courts and the adoption of alternative dispute resolution programs.

Henslerspeech

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