Monday, September 15, 2008

Tilburg Law School starts a Microjustice Reteach Program

Tilburg Law School, part of Tilburg University located in southern Netherlands, was an early partner to ILA's microjustice initiative through professor J.M. Barendrecht. In fact, the initial concept was presented in a paper co-authored between ILA and the school. I'm taking the liberty of reproducing the school's program on microjustice, from its website, as follows (UPDATED: see also it's various useful microjustice publications as well as the team's contact information): 

The Microjustice Research Program
The Microjustice Research and Innovation Program supports the development of Microjustice. Microjustice is an innovative bottom-up approach to access to justice. It aims to deliver justice to the people at the base of the pyramid in a way similar to micro-services that serve needs for credit, savings, insurance, and healthcare. It strives to make access to justice affordable and sustainable.

Project Information

Background and concept:
Management of interpersonal (resource) conflict is essential for economic growth, peace and stability. Microjustice is an innovative approach that strives to make access to justice affordable and sustainable, through focus on:
Family disputes, property conflict, and labor issues: they disrupt lives. In essence, these legal problems are about people's investments in their homes, land, family, business, and work. Protecting their rights in these investments is essential for economic development. Legal systems - formal or informal - are often not accessible for the poor. Improving access to justice; that is what microjustice is about.
The traditional approach in rule of law and access to justice is top down: most resources are spend on building courts, drafting codes and constitutions, training judges and regulating lawyers. In recent years, however, the focus is shifting to a more bottom up approach. These legal empowerment initiatives focus and build on local needs and capabilities.
At the same time, several innovative approaches to delivering products and professional services to people living at the Base of the Pyramid have been developed. Microfinance initiatives broke down complex professional banking services like money lending and insurance into basic services that can be delivered locally and sustainably. These microservices have proven to be very successful.
New perspectives from the emerging discipline of dispute system design indicate that similar innovations are possible for legal services: microjustice. The Microjustice Research Program integrates a number of research projects that focus on obtaining deep insight in the functionality of the justice system and bring forth innovation (in the form and standardized tools and products). The focus is on five basic tasks that the justice system supports:

  • Meeting > Incentives and reasons to meet and change the status quo;

  • Talking > Structuring communication and negotiation;

  • Sharing > Divide assets, money, time and other issues in a fair way;

  • Deciding > Neutral decision making in case clients do not agree;

  • Stabilizing > Transparency of relationships and reasons for compliance.

  • Approach and Strategy

    Within the Microjustice Research Program, a number of tools and products are developed and tested locally, which can be used to design sustainable, effective and accessible dispute systems. Knowledge and research methods from a number of disciplines are combined (legal theory, comparative law, social psychology, victimology, sociology, institutional economics, micro economics, negation theory, conflict studies, dispute system design, etc), as well as modern information technologies. With these tools and products, major contributions can be made to the development of microjustice and legal empowerment initiatives as well as to the development of an evidence based dispute system design.
    TISCO cooperates with local partners (ngo's and universities), Oxfam Novib, the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL), the Benelux Base of the Pyramid Learning Lab, the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences (department of Organisation Studies) and the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration (department of Organisation and Strategy) of Tilburg University. TISCO participates in the Microjustice Initiative.

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