Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden Law School

National Law Sector Plan

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, in consultation with the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), provides funding for the Netherlands National Law Sector Plan, part of the domain ‘Social Sciences and Humanities’.

Funding is provided to stimulate legal research in the Netherlands over the period 2019 to 2024. Leiden Law School has opted for two important themes within this Sector planEmpirical Legal Studies (ELS) and Institutions for Conflict Resolution. These two themes have their own focus, though researchers from both themes work together closely on theoretical and methodological innovations.

The theme Empirical Legal Studies aims to expand the links between lawyers and social scientists as much as possible during the coming years. The aim is to develop empirical legal research in a focused way. The object of the faculty plan for this theme is to strengthen expertise in the field of behavior in a market context. The focus will be on the empirical study of the behavior of market actors on the one hand, and the legal rules that attempt to regulate that behavior on the other hand. Four other law faculties in the Netherlands are also working on this theme: Groningen University, VU Amsterdam, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Utrecht University. We collaborate with these sister faculties in the field of research and education within the national ELS platform.

The theme Institutions for Conflict Resolution aims to maintain the authority and legitimacy of public institutions in a society that is becoming increasingly fragmented. The sector plan refers to two opposing developments that call for a fundamental reassessment. First, the public desires that new and major issues in society are addressed faster and more effectively. Second, the general public believes that institutions have lost the connection with their everyday lives as a result of increased inaccessibility, fragmentation and polarization. Here in Leiden, this theme focuses on the ability of the judiciary to prevent and resolve problems, also in cases where the courts are given a role in issues that are still the focus of social and political debate.  A total of three law faculties in the Netherlands have chosen the theme Institutions for Conflict Resolution. Our sister faculties come from Radboud University in Nijmegen and Utrecht Univeristy.

The motivation for the strategy adopted by Leiden Law School is its appreciation of multidisciplinary research in relation to legal science. After all, issues in society are not restricted by boundaries of disciplines. For this reason, we are pursuing a type of theory and policy formation that combines the normative and empirical approach. Researchers from both themes are together attempting to introduce new accents in the current lines of research. For example, ample opportunities exist to develop empirical components in specific research programs. We are also actively contributing to opportunities for developing the talents of junior researchers. To help address issues in society, we are working with the judiciary and other actors involved in the administration of justice in the Netherlands. Finally, we aim to make a difference outside the Netherlands with our research – by conducting more comparative (legal) research among other things.

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