Is Justice Possible in Russian Courts? A Case Study of Housing Disputes

Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper 1786

Indiana International and Comparative Law Review, forthcoming

49 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2023

See all articles by Kathryn Hendley

Kathryn Hendley

University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School; University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 21, 2023

Abstract

How do Russian judges go about achieving justice? This question is explored through a case study of disputes initiated by vulnerable (often elderly) actors who seek to invalidate contracts for the sale of their residences on the grounds that they were tricked or duped. The analysis is grounded in a set of 90 recent judicial opinions from courts across Russia. It reveals that, despite a longstanding distaste for witnesses, judges are open to hearing testimony in these cases. But they rarely rely on such evidence in making their decisions, preferring instead to prioritize documentary evidence. Doing so revealed that Russian judges' understanding of justice is primarily procedural. Their preference for documentary evidence allowed them to meet the quick turnaround times mandated by the procedural codes. This, in turn, served judges' career interests by allowing them to compile a track record that makes them strong candidates for promotion.

Keywords: courts, evidence, judges, Russia, testimony

JEL Classification: K41

Suggested Citation

Hendley, Kathryn, Is Justice Possible in Russian Courts? A Case Study of Housing Disputes (September 21, 2023). Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper 1786, Indiana International and Comparative Law Review, forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4579127

Kathryn Hendley (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School ( email )

975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
301-405-3476 (Phone)
301-405-3542 (Fax)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Political Science ( email )

1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States

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