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Article

Access_open Austerity’s Effect on English Civil Justice

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2015
Keywords Austerity, court fees and legal aid, adversarial and inquisitorial process, McKenzie Friends, simplified process
Authors John Sorabji
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article considers the effect of austerity-induced public spending cuts on the English civil justice system. In doing so it initially examines two fundamental changes engendered by the effect austerity has had on civil court fees and legal aid: first, a challenge to the traditional commitment in English procedure to adversarial process, and a concomitant increase in inquisitorial or investigative processes; and secondly, the growth in use of unqualified individuals to act as advocates in court for individual litigants who are unable to afford legal representation. It then turns to consider what, if any, effect austerity has had on simplified processes available in English civil procedure.


John Sorabji
DPhil, Senior Fellow, UCL Judicial Institute, University College, London, email: j.sorabji@ucl.ac.uk.
Article

Access_open Canadian Civil Justice: Relief in Small and Simple Matters in an Age of Efficiency

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2015
Keywords Canada, small and simple matters, austerity, civil justice, access to justice
Authors Jonathan Silver and Trevor C.W. Farrow
AbstractAuthor's information

    Canada is in the midst of an access to justice crisis. The rising costs and complexity of legal services in Canada have surpassed the need for these services. This article briefly explores some obstacles to civil justice as well as some of the court-based programmes and initiatives in place across Canada to address this growing access to justice gap. In particular, this article explains the Canadian civil justice system and canvasses the procedures and programmes in place to make the justice system more efficient and improve access to justice in small and simple matters. Although this article does look briefly at the impact of the global financial crisis on access to justice efforts in Canada, we do not provide empirical data of our own on this point. Further, we conclude that there is not enough existing data to draw correlations between austerity measures in response to the global crisis and the challenges facing Canadian civil justice. More evidence-based research would be helpful to understand current access to justice challenges and to make decisions on how best to move forward with meaningful innovation and policy reform. However, there is reason for optimism in Canada: innovative ideas and a national action plan provide reason to believe that the country can simplify, expedite, and increase access to civil justice in meaningful ways over the coming years.


Jonathan Silver
Jonathan Silver, B.A. Honors, J.D. 2015, Osgoode Hall Law School.

Trevor C.W. Farrow
Trevor C.W. Farrow is Professor and Associate Dean, Osgoode Hall Law School. He is very grateful to Jonathan Silver, who took the lead in researching and writing this article.
Article

Access_open Relief in Small and Simple Matters in Belgium

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2015
Keywords Belgium, small matters, simple matters, recovery of unchallenged claims, summary order for payment
Authors Stefaan Voet
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article is based on a national report that was written for the XVth World Congress of the International Association of Procedural Law that was held in Istanbul in May 2015 and that focused on Effective Judicial Relief and Remedies in an Age of Austerity. It first of all sketches the general judicial context in Belgium and some of its relevant features: the judicial organisation, the goals of the civil justice system, the course of an ordinary civil lawsuit, the role of the court, and the litigation costs. Next, a detailed and critical overview of the current and future procedures that offer relief in small and simple matters is given. The current summary order for payment procedure, which was introduced in 1967, did not meet its goals. The article concludes that a new trend is emerging in Belgium, namely keeping small and unchallenged claims outside the judiciary and providing for cheaper and more efficient alternatives.


Stefaan Voet
Stefaan Voet is an Associate Professor of Law at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and a Visiting Professor at the Universiteit Hasselt.
Article

Access_open Brazilian Civil Procedure in the ‘Age of Austerity’?

Effectiveness, Speed, and Legal Certainty: Small Claims, Uncontested Claims, and Simplification of Judicial Decisions and Proceedings

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2015
Keywords austerity, civil procedure, access to justice, Brazil, small claims
Authors Antonio Gidi and Hermes Zaneti, Jr.
AbstractAuthor's information

    The current debate in Brazilian Civil Procedure revolves around efficiency, legal certainty, and access to justice, not austerity. As a matter of fact, the debate over austerity is nonexistent in Brazil so far. By expanding the access to justice to a broader portion of the society, the legal system increased the number of cases and the costs associated with the judicial system. But the excess litigation and expense associated with the expansion of access to justice has contradictorily curtailed access to justice. This new situation demands new efforts to increase efficiency and legal certainty, while still increasing access to justice.


Antonio Gidi
Antonio Gidi is Visiting Assistant Professor at the Syracuse University. SJD, University of Pennsylvania Law School; LLM and PhD, PUC-SP University; LLB, Federal University of Bahia.

Hermes Zaneti, Jr.
Hermes Zaneti, Jr. is Professor of Law at the Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo and Prosecutor. PhD in Philosophy and Theory of Law, Università degli Studi di Roma Tre; LLM and PhD in Civil Procedure, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRS).
Article

Access_open A View from the Sky

A General Overview about Civil Litigation in the United States with Reference to the Relief in Small and Simple Matters

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2015
Keywords civil procedure, United States, small and simple matters
Authors Manuel Gomez and Juan Carlos Gomez
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article, which is based on the research conducted for the General Report ‘Relief in Small and Simple Matters in an Age of Austerity’ presented at the XV World Congress of Procedural Law, provides a contextualised and broad overview of these phenomena in the United States. After describing the general features of the federal and state judiciaries, including its adversarial model of judging, and the importance of the jury system, the article turns its attention to discuss the factors that affect the cost of litigation in the United States, the different models of litigation funding, the available legal aid mechanisms, and the procedural tools available for handling small and simple disputes. Furthermore, this article briefly revisits the discussion about the effect of austerity on the functioning of the United States legal system on the handling of small and simple matters and ends with a brief conclusion that summarises its contribution and sketches the points for future research on this important topic.


Manuel Gomez
Manuel Gomez is Associate Professor of Law and Associate Dean of International and Graduate Students at the Florida International University College of Law.

Juan Carlos Gomez
Juan Carlos Gomez is Director of the Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at the Florida International University College of Law.

    Pragmatism has become an established academic topic focused on an accepted canon of works and a number of seminal authors. There is something ironic about this fixation of the Pragmatist tradition. An anticipation of transience and embrace of adaptability runs through many of the classic works of Pragmatism. Nevertheless, there seems to be a tendency to fixate Pragmatism and freeze it in its classic iterations, especially with respect to its philosophy of scientific inquiry. The article seeks to retrieve the dynamics and adaptability the classical Pragmatists built into their notion of scientific inquiry. It seeks to illustrate the need for such flexibility with recent developments in the field of economics. When the financial crisis struck in 2007-2008, this involved more than the insolvency of a number of large banks. The crisis, at the very least, also involved the bankruptcy of a dominant economic model. It raised questions about the rationality of markets and the widespread faith in soft-touch regulation. It cast doubt on decades of neo-classical economic dogma that counseled small government, privatisation, and free markets. Neo-classical economics did not float free from other concerns. It informed notions about the role of the state, the limits of public policy, and the scope of democratic decision-making. Indeed, faith in rational, self-correcting markets affected debates in disparate disciplines like law, political science, philosophy, ethics, and history in many non-trivial ways. Hence, the financial crisis is also a crisis of scientific research.


Wouter de Been
Wouter de Been is assistant professor at the Erasmus School of Law, the Netherlands.

    The seriousness of the incorporation problem in interdisciplinary legal research, this article argues, depends on how legal research is understood. If legal research is understood as a single, inherently interdisciplinary discipline, the problem largely falls away. On this view, the incorporation of other disciplines into legal research is what legal academics have for the last 40 years already successfully been doing. If, on the other hand, legal research is best conceived as a multi-disciplinary field, consisting of a core discipline – doctrinal research – and various other types of mono-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, the incorporation of other disciplines presents real difficulties. For legal academics engaged in socio-legal research, in particular, two problems arise: the practical problem of trying to address a legal professional and academic audience at the same time and the philosophical problem of trying to integrate the internal perspective of doctrinal research with the external perspective of other disciplines. In the final part of the article, these practical and philosophical difficulties are illustrated by reference to the author’s research on the politics of judicial review in new democracies.


Theunis Robert Roux
Theunis Robert Roux is Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

    The doctrinal methodology is in a period of change and transition. Realising that the scope of the doctrinal method is too constricting, academic lawyers are becoming eclectic in their use of research method. In this transitional time, legal scholars are increasingly infusing evidence (and methods) from other disciplines into their reasoning to bolster their reform recommendations.
    This article considers three examples of the interplay of the discipline of law with other disciplines in the pursuit of law reform. Firstly the article reviews studies on the extent of methodologies and reformist frameworks in PhD research in Australia. Secondly it analyses a ‘snapshot’ of recently published Australian journal articles on criminal law reform. Thirdly, it focuses on the law reform commissions, those independent government committees that play such an important role in law reform in common law jurisdictions.
    This examination demonstrates that while the doctrinal core of legal scholarship remains intact, legal scholars are endeavouring to accommodate statistics, comparative perspectives, social science evidence and methods, and theoretical analysis, within the legal research framework, in order to provide additional ballast to the recommendations for reform.


Terry Hutchinson
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, QUT Law School (t.hutchinson@qut.edu.au); Marika Chang (QUT Law School) was the research assistant on this project.
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