Empirical study of civil justice systems: a look at the literature




Lines, Michael

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Alberta Law Review


The exploitation of empirical methodologies has had a late start in law, compared with other social sciences. Though there have been consistent calls for the scientific study of law-related problems since the late 1800s, the main impetus to actually begin conducting sophisticated and useful empirical studies has come from outside the profession, starting mainly in the 1950s. Since then a growing number of evidence-based studies of legal topics have appeared, some authored by those trained in the law, others by those trained in other disciplines, often as collaborative efforts, and occasionally by scholars trained in both the law and empirical methodology. Prominent subjects have been the behavior of juries, procedural justice, case loads in specific court systems, judicial decision making, the legal profession, the impact of law on society, and trends in specific types of cases, especially medical malpractice and product liability suits. This florescence seems to have tailed off somewhat since the late 1980s. What follows is an informal, non-exhaustive look at empirical studies relating to the reform of civil procedure and the improvement of the administration of civil justice.



Law, Canada, civil justice, empirical studies


42 Alta. L. Rev. 887 2004-2005