Court Backlogs: Balancing Efficiency and Justice in Singapore

16 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2017 Last revised: 16 Apr 2018

See all articles by Helena Whalen-Bridge

Helena Whalen-Bridge

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 23, 2017

Abstract

English Abstract: In attempting to eradicate a backlog, can a jurisdiction prioritise court efficiency without effecting substantive justice? This article engages with this question by considering the experiences of Singapore, a common law country in Southeast Asia that overcame a large backlog in the 1990’s. The article investigates how efficiency and justice were conceptualised in relevant court reforms. In the beginning of backlog eradication, efficiency took centre stage, but it does not appear to have been considered in isolation. The introduction of business management principles, which could have boded ill for justice, in fact introduced a theme of consumer satisfaction that ultimately developed into a more robust approach to access to justice. Singapore’s experience suggests that the connection between efficiency and justice is not a logically linear landscape, but rather an intertwined relationship in which efficiency and justice find a context-specific understanding.

Spanish Abstract: Al intentar erradicar un atraso, ¿puede una jurisdicción priorizar la eficiencia judicial sin que esto afecte a la impartición de justicia? Este artículo se ocupa de esa cuestión, y para ello se fija en la experiencia de Singapur, país del Sudeste Asiático de derecho consuetudinario que en los años 90 solucionó un grave problema de acumulación de trabajo atrasado, investigando la forma en que reformas judiciales relevantes conceptualizaron la eficiencia y la justicia. Al principio, la eficiencia pasó a primer plano, pero parece que no se consideró de forma aislada. La introducción de principios de gestión empresarial, que podrían haber hecho augurar lo peor para la justicia, en realidad introdujeron la cuestión de la satisfacción del cliente, lo cual, más adelante, derivó en un abordaje más sólido al tema del acceso a la justicia. Esta experiencia hace pensar que la conexión entre eficiencia y justicia no es de una linealidad lógica, sino que ambas se entrelazan y se entienden en relación con su contexto.

Keywords: Backlog, efficiency, justice, access to justice, Singapore, Acumulación de trabajo, eficiencia, justicia, acceso a la justicia, Singapur

Suggested Citation

Whalen-Bridge, Helena, Court Backlogs: Balancing Efficiency and Justice in Singapore (November 23, 2017). Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol. 7, No. 4, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3076464

Helena Whalen-Bridge (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Eu Tong Sen Building
Singapore, 259776
Singapore

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