Access to Justice and Small Claims Courts: Supporting Latin American Civil Reforms Through Empirical Research in Los Angeles County, California
Revista Chilena de Derecho Vol.43, No.3, 2016
32 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2017
Date Written: December 2016
The purpose of this article is to provide an analysis on the use of Small Claims Courts as a mechanism to improve access to justice in order to support the ongoing reform movement in Latin-American countries in civil matters. In this region, this essential information is intended to be used by policymakers to help judiciaries to confront several barriers that currently face common citizens: lack of information, high economic cost of the judicial process and obtaining legal representation, corruption, extreme formalism, delays, and even the geographical location of the courts. The experience on the implementation of the Small Claims Courts in the United States, with the modifications made during the 60's and the 70's as a result of the consumers' movement, may contribute to the discussion in countries where is too much to be done in providing access to justice to groups of populations traditionally excluded, at least in many civil matters. With this purpose, the author have made an empirical research at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse of the Los Angeles Superior Court finding that even when some reforms could improve the system, with the proper incentives and with restrictions for corporate plaintiffs to avoid systemic abuse, this mechanism can become the people's court.
Keywords: Access to justice, Small Claims Courts, Empirical research
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