Universiteit Leiden

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Institutions for Conflict Resolution

About Institutions for Conflict Resolution (COI)

Legal proceedings are often time-consuming, costly and stressful. Accessible out-of-court dispute resolution can sometimes offer a good alternative, but having access to reliable and efficient judicial proceedings remains equally important.

Legal proceedings are often time-consuming, costly and stressful. Accessible out-of-court dispute resolution can sometimes offer a good alternative, but having access to reliable and efficient judicial proceedings remains equally important.  

In recent years, courts have increasingly become something of a ‘society fixer’ where the general public and civil-society organisations turn to make their case when they feel other institutions are failing. Controversial issues that have come before the Dutch courts have included climate protection and Sinterklaas’ stereotype helper Black Pete, while the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled on national budgets following the 2007 financial crisis.

Expectations of what the courts can achieve are high, sometimes perhaps too high. There is a risk that in the general public’s perception, fundamental principles of law (such as independence and impartiality of judges) are coming under pressure. 

COI@Leiden research focuses on two themes: sustainable justice and the courtroom as a social arena.

Sustainable justice

Our aim is to study how the judiciary can best respond to the expectations placed on it to resolve problems. We believe there are three components to an optimally functioning legal system: access, legal protection, and effective conflict resolution. Our findings will be contextualized by comparing them to results achieved by other institutions for conflict resolution.

The courtroom as a social arena

We aim to discover whether the possibilities for litigation need to be amended to reinforce or weaken the function of the courtroom as a social arena.  We also aim to investigate (i) what processes lead to socially charged issues coming before the courts; (ii) what role the courts can play in this; and (iii) the consequences for the legitimacy of the courts themselves.

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