Manning the Courthouse Gates: Pleadings, Jurisdiction and the Nation-State

31 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2015 Last revised: 30 Jan 2016

See all articles by Margaret Woo

Margaret Woo

Northeastern University - School of Law

Date Written: November 16, 2015


While civil procedure reforms are often said to be based on concerns of efficiency and economy, this article argues that civil justice reforms are also part of any nation’s project of national identity and state building. A robust civil justice system is a statement of national progress and reforms to the system are less a reflection of a “civil justice crisis,” and more a result of political bartering and debates about a nation’s identity. This can be seen in European countries’ recent efforts to coordinate procedural systems even as they are called to define themselves as member states of the European Union. As this article will document, this is similarly true in China and in the United States where civil procedure reforms have matched critical stages of state building and national expansion. But interestingly, this article concludes that despite the different polity of the two countries, recent changes in civil procedures may be similarly counter-productive to the raison d’être of the procedures sought to be reformed, rather than supportive of their ideals. The effect of these changes, in the case of the United States can be counter-democratic, and in China, counter-harmonious.

Keywords: courts, civil procedure, judicial reforms, jurisdiction, pleadings

Suggested Citation

Woo, Margaret, Manning the Courthouse Gates: Pleadings, Jurisdiction and the Nation-State (November 16, 2015). Nevada Law Journal, Vol. 15, pp. 1261-1291 (2015), Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 254-2016, Available at SSRN:

Margaret Woo (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

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