The Speed of Justice
66 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2018 Last revised: 7 Nov 2018
Date Written: March 22, 2018
Can changing the rules of the game affect government performance? This paper studies the impact of a simple procedural reform on the efficiency and quality of adjudication in Senegal. The reform gave judges the duty and powers to conclude pre-trial proceedings within a four-month deadline. The analysis combines a staggered rollout across the six civil and commercial chambers of the Court of Dakar and three years of high-frequency caseload data to construct an event study. The analysis finds a reduction in procedural formalism, as the length of the pre-trial stage decreases by 42.9 days (0.29 standard deviation) and the number of case-level pre-trial hearings is reduced, while judges are more likely to impose deadlines. The effect is similar for small and large cases, and fast and slow judges are equally likely to apply the reform. The evidence suggests that these efficiency gains have no adverse impact on quality, and the paper documents positive firm-level effects.
Keywords: International Trade and Trade Rules, Economic Adjustment and Lending, Taxation & Subsidies, Macro-Fiscal Policy, Tax Administration, Tax Law, Public Sector Economics, Public Finance Decentralization and Poverty Reduction, Social Policy, Legislation, Legal Products, Legal Reform, Judicial System Reform, Regulatory Regimes
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