ERC Consilidator Grant 'Building EU civil justice: challenges of procedural innovations bridging access to justice'



    Civil justice is under pressure. The proclaimed crisis in civil justice results from the ineffectiveness of procedures in terms of the long duration, high costs, and complexity. These undermine access to justice as guaranteed by the Human Rights Convention and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It is illustrative in this regard that 26% of the violation judgments concern undue delay of procedure. A well-functioning civil justice system is pivotal for enforcing rights for consumers and businesses and protecting fundamental rights. Civil justice is also increasingly valued for its contribution to economic growth as seen from the World Bank reports and the EU Justice Agenda for 2020. Key issues in the current efforts to bridge the access to justice gap at the EU and national level are digitalisation of procedures, privatisation of justice (ADR), an increased possibility of self-representation, and specialisation of courts and procedures. These trends are potentially ground-breaking in contributing to easier and cheaper access to courts and private forms of adjudication. However, a one-sided focus on procedural efficiency or competitive advantage may have repercussions for procedural justice and the inclusive quality of the civil justice system. The question is how these digitalisation, privatisation, selfrepresentation, and specialisation trends influence access to justice in the selected Member States, and what the repercussions are for the emerging EU civil justice system. Using a unique combination of legal-normative, comparative law, and qualitative research, the project will (1) develop an urgently needed integrated approach to digitalisation, privatisation, self-representation, and specialisation; (2) scrutinise these against the background of strengthening access to justice as a fundamental right and as the pillar of civil justice in the EU; and (3) build on the foundation of EU civil justice, securing effective and equal access to justice for EU citizens.
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