Priorities for the Justice System: Responding to the Most Urgent Legal Problems of Individuals

51 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2008 Last revised: 23 Dec 2012

See all articles by Maurits Barendrecht

Maurits Barendrecht

Tilburg Law School; HiiL Innovating Justice

Peter Kamminga

VU University Amsterdam - Faculty of Law; Harvard Law School (Program on Negotiation); University of California Hastings College of the Law

Jin Ho Verdonschot

Tilburg University - TISCO; Tilburg University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 2008

Abstract

At some points in their lives, people experience legal problems that induce justice needs: they need protection by outside norms or interventions that structure the conduct of other persons. In this paper, we attempt to identify the most prevalent and urgent legal problems of individuals.

We start with an intuitive list of twelve categories of legal problems that frequently occur in the law and development literature and in access to justice research. Then we use six approaches, each with their own strengths and blind spots, that give indications of the frequency and urgency of these legal problems: (1) information regarding the frequency of the problems from legal needs surveys conducted in eight countries; (2) data from these surveys about the typical impact of these problems on people's lives; (3) court specializations in sixteen countries; (4) estimates of the value of the interests that individuals wish to protect against threats from outsiders; (5) estimates of the typical costs of self-protection; and (6) estimates of the typical size of specific investments that a person will lose if he leaves the threatening situation. These approaches (not representing a rigorous empirical methodology) give some guidance for the process of setting priorities in justice systems that aim to be responsive to these needs. We discuss the policy implications for governments, donors in the area of law and development, and private suppliers of norms and interventions. In particular we speculate about the types of norms that may be an answer to the categories of legal problems, the types of interventions that may fit these legal problems, the possible consequences for specialization of court and other legal services, as well as the capacity that may be needed to deal with each category of legal problems. Our exploration of urgent legal problems and the most effective ways to meet justice needs suggests that there are many gaps between the type of protection that individuals need, and what legal systems are able to deliver.

Keywords: Legal problem, Justice need, Norm, Intervention

JEL Classification: D23, D63, D74, I31, K10, K41

Suggested Citation

Barendrecht, Maurits and Kamminga, Peter and Verdonschot, Jin Ho, Priorities for the Justice System: Responding to the Most Urgent Legal Problems of Individuals (March 2008). TISCO Working Paper No. 001/2008; Tilburg University Legal Studies Working Paper No. 002/2008; TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2008-011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1090885 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1090885

Maurits Barendrecht (Contact Author)

Tilburg Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
NL-5000 LE Tilburg
Netherlands
0031134662298 (Phone)

HiiL Innovating Justice ( email )

Warandelaan 2
P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.hiil.org

Peter Kamminga

VU University Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081 HV
Netherlands

Harvard Law School (Program on Negotiation) ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.uchastings.edu/faculty-administration/faculty/kamminga/index.html

Jin Ho Verdonschot

Tilburg University - TISCO ( email )

Warandelaan 2
P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands
0031134668764 (Phone)
0031134662323 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.tilburguniversity.nl/webwijs/show/?uid=j.h.verdonschot

Tilburg University - Faculty of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
NL-5000 LE Tilburg
Netherlands
0031134668764 (Phone)
0031134662323 (Fax)

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