In Search of Microjustice: Five Basic Elements of a Dispute System

29 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2009

See all articles by Maurits Barendrecht

Maurits Barendrecht

Tilburg Law School; HiiL Innovating Justice

Date Written: January 29, 2009


This paper integrates findings from legal needs studies, institutional economics, and interdisciplinary conflict research to develop a framework for analyzing dispute systems. Five essential tasks that a dispute system facilitates are identified and the basic technologies for supplying them. Complementarities between these five types of services are discussed, as well as common elements of dispute systems that may be useful add-ons, but do not seem to belong to the essential core.

Establishing the necessary and sufficient elements of a dispute system leads to useful insights about the place of dispute services such as mediation, lawyers, and courts in the broader institutional setting of a dispute system. The framework is also a contribution to the emerging discipline of dispute system design. The framework can be a tool for evaluating existing dispute systems, and for developing innovative, affordable and sustainable access to justice (microjustice).

Keywords: dispute system design, legal procedure, negotiation, access to justice, conflict resolution, negotiation

JEL Classification: C78, D23, D26, I31, K40, K41, O17

Suggested Citation

Barendrecht, Maurits, In Search of Microjustice: Five Basic Elements of a Dispute System (January 29, 2009). Tilburg University Legal Studies Working Paper No. 002/2009. Available at SSRN: or

Maurits Barendrecht (Contact Author)

Tilburg Law School ( email )

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

HiiL Innovating Justice ( email )

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


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