Knowledge for Justice

Knowledge for Justice

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Values, perspectives and methods PDF Print

 

Values

The quality of justice can be considered as the ability of actors and judicial systems to act and define disputes respecting and promoting a set of key founding values. A first area of research is therefore the investigation of such values. In the last twenty years, the traditional values and principles recognised by the legal and judicial approach such as independence, impartiality and the rule of law have been joined by principles of economic conception (efficient use of resources) or public management (service delivered to courts’ users). The coexistence of this wide spectrum of values has not always been peaceful. Tensions and conflicts between values and between actors supporting specific values often emerge. Research starts therefore investigating such values and principles, mapping out real or potential sources of conflicts, and identifying reasonable reconciliations strategies.

Some insights:

 

Perspectives and methods

The coexistence of multiple values with roots in different scientific disciplines and institutional domains calls for evaluation and quality development methods based on different theoretical backgrounds, each one coupled with specific data collection approaches and evaluative methods. For this reason, the research benefits from a multidisciplinary approach that includes legal, managerial, sociological and politological sciences and looks for evaluation criteria that include a respect for the core values and roles of courts, a meaningful place for all actors, including the public, and means to ensure that evaluations have consequences in the day to day operations of justice systems.

Some insights:


The l
egal perspective, from which judicial systems are traditionally evaluated, emphasise areas of quality such as independence, impartiality and equality before the law. These values and principles are promoted and evaluated by well-known mechanisms, such as appeals, open hearings, motivation of the judgments, as well as complaints and disciplinary procedures. The research explores how these mechanisms work and how they can be improved.

Some insight:


The
managerial perspective is focused on indicators developed to measure how courts or judicial officers perform in specific areas such as time to disposition, cost per case or number of decisions per judicial officer. Often, this approach uses the techniques and methods developed within New Public Management, such as management by objectives. The methods used are based on collections of quantitative data relating to the flows of cases and costs incurred, and often require statistical analysis. The research explores the functioning of these mechanisms, the consequences of their deployment within justice systems, and carries out comparative assessments at national or cross-country level.

Some insights:


T
he public perspective emphasizes the service delivered to the court users and more broadly to the People. In this case, research focuses on how citizens and the users assess the service provided by judicial offices, if the treatment received was appropriate and fair (procedural fairness), if courts and justice systems enjoy the much needed trust and legitimacy of the sovereign People. The methods adopted, taken from the political and social sciences, include surveys, focus groups, as well as new methods designed to better involve users in the evaluation of services.

Some insights:


Ultimately, the introduction of new values and principles within justice systems generates tensions and conflicts, the need for finding a balance between values in real (or questionable) competition such as efficiency and fairness, or accountability and independence. This can be faced as zero sum game, where more accountability goes to detriment of judicial independence (or vice versa), but also through positive sum games as when improvements of independence and accountability are combined. It is a typical question of allocation of values, then a strict political issue. Therefore, a fourth perspective of the researches on quality and assessment of justice systems is the political perspective. It aims to understand the dynamics affecting values allocated within justice systems, and to study the new institutional arrangements (such as courts’ management boards, or negotiated budget allocation) that can enable and facilitate essential political exchanges.

Some insights:

Last Updated on Friday, 27 March 2015 11:40
 
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