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UNDERSTANDING COURTS

One broken relationship may have to be split up in a number of cases before different courts in order to be resolved. Citizens in the EU countries tend to have a fairly positive view of the independence of their courts and judges, but only very few people see court proceedings as straightforward, and many people loathe the cost and length of proceedings.6 Court procedures can hardly be used without a lawyer as an intermediary, which adds to the costs. These costs can become uncontrollable if the procedures enable motions, extra phases and appeals, in which lawyers paid by the hour continue to create extra work for each other. In order to guarantee access to justice for all, legal aid has to be subsidised on a scale that is not affordable for most governments.7 So, besides having to pay for judges, court houses and the supporting organisation, governments now have another budgetary incentive to restrict access to courts.

In some countries, courts are beginning to lose their market share (See textbox below). Law firms also see that revenues from litigation are no longer growing.8 Like most independent professionals in the public sector, judges are wary of bureaucracy and strive to make a meaningful contribution to people’s lives. They are aiming to resolve problems such as the impact of divorce on children or to break cycles of substance abuse, mental health issues and lower recidivism rates. This comes on top of their constitutional duty to render decisions which are legally sound and based on facts established beyond a reasonable level of doubt. Letting people participate, settle or at least feel an “ownership” of the outcomes achieved, has become part of judicial ethics. Flash Eurobarometer: Justice in the EU (pp. 1-146, Rep. No. 385). (2013). Abel, L. (2013). Designing Access: Using Institutional Design to Improve Decision Making About the Distribution of Free Civil Legal Aid. Harvard Law & Policy Review, 7, 1-22. 8 Report on the State of the Legal Market (Vol. 1, pp. 1-18, Tech.). (2015). 6 7

The civil and commercial courts are in charge of disputers such as those concerning contracts or insolvency proceedings. From what you know, how would you rate the justice system in (OUR COUNTRY) when dealing with civil and commercial affairs on each of the following aspects? Would you say it is very good, fairly good, fairly bad of very bad? Independance of courts and judges Fairness of judgements Use of new technologies Execution of judgements

10%

44%

5%

43%

8%

5%

38%

Straightforward proceedings

4%

38%

Very good

Length of proceedings

2%

Fairly good

21%

39%

Easily understood judicial decisions

2%

27%

39%

5%

Cost of proceedings

23%

24% 19%

Fairly bad

29%

32% 40%

Very bad

14%

10%

15%

7%

25%

10%

17%

9%

15%

32% 30%

9%

9% 16%

19% 26%

25%

14%

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As innovators within the ODR world, through our Rechtwijzer platform, we were delighted to host this years annual Online Dispute Resolution...

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