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

32 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2016

See all articles by Margaret Woo

Margaret Woo

Northeastern University - School of Law

Date Written: 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.

Suggested Citation

Woo, Margaret, Manning the Courthouse Gates: Pleadings, Jurisdiction and the Nation State (2015). Nevada Law Journal, Vol. 15, p. 1261, Summer 2015. Available at SSRN:

Margaret Woo (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-373-3309 (Phone)

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