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Overarching PhD lab on Leiden PhD projects regarding Institutions for Conflict Resolution

On 21 June 2021 a meeting took place during which PhD candidates within the research theme 'Institutions for Conflict Resolution' at Leiden University presented the current state of their doctoral research.

Institutions for Conflict Resolution is a nationwide partnership that serves to implement the Netherlands Sector Plan Law. The research on institutions for conflict resolution conducted at Leiden University consists of two pillars: (1) sustainable justice and (2) the courtroom as a societal arena.

The meeting on 21 June was the final PhD lab before the summer break and was the last one in a series of labs organised by the PhD candidates within Institutions for Conflict Resolution. During these labs, various speakers gave talks on topics relating to content (such as trust and legitimacy), methodology (such as conducting comparative legal research) and practical issues (such as writing a dissertation based on papers and finding proper journals for interdisciplinary publications).

During this final meeting before the summer break, it was the PhD candidates’ own turn to present. After Miranda Boone opened the meeting, the PhD candidates gave a presentation on the current state of their research, which each of them had been working on for about a year by then. PhD candidate Nikki Vosters, who is examining digitalisation and administrative law, unfortunately could not attend the meeting. After each presentation, feedback was provided by researchers connected to a different PhD projects (PhD candidates and supervisors) as well as other attendees. In this way every presentation provided the PhD candidates with valuable input for their research.

Stephanie Olsohn kicked off by presenting her research on underage witnesses of domestic violence and a problem-solving approach to these kinds of cases. Then, Marijke Veerman presented her research on transgressions by multinational banks and enforcement by regular courts in the fields of criminal law and civil law. Eva Grosfeld gave a presentation on her study of how social psychological insights into EU law can increase the perceived legitimacy of the EU. Legitimacy was also an important theme in Sophie Koning’s study, which focuses on public sentiments surrounding societally sensitive Article 12 cases (i.e. complaints against decisions not to prosecute). Elise Filius then presented her research on the European courtroom as a political arena, focusing on judicial intervention in politically sensitive cases in European asylum law and criminal law. Finally, Joyce Esser gave a presentation on her study of the role of the Dutch administrative law judge from a comparative legal perspective and the balance between providing solutions to broad social issues as well as giving tailor-made decisions in individual cases.

All of these projects will help to answer the overarching questions on which research within Institutions for Conflict Resolution at Leiden University is focused. These are:

  • How can the judiciary best respond to the expectations placed on it to resolve problems, and what consequences does this have for access to justice and legal protection? (Pillar 1: sustainable justice)
  • What other forms of legal and extralegal conflict resolution are being used, how do these differ from classic procedures, and to what extent do these realize solutions for the problems underlying conflicts? (Pillar 1: sustainable justice)
  • What processes lead to socially charged issues coming before the courts? (Pillar 2: the courtroom as a societal arena)
  • What contributions do courts provide to solving societal problems and how does this affect judicial legitimacy? (Pillar 2: the courtroom as a societal arena)
  • How does the way procedures are designed affect citizens’ possibilities for litigation, and should this be adjusted to strengthen courtrooms’ function as a societal arena? (Pillar 2: the courtroom as a societal arena)

It was an inspiring and special afternoon, not least because it was the first physical meeting in a long time (respecting, of course, applicable measures concerning the coronavirus). This opportunity was optimally used by having drinks afterwards, which allowed participants to continue their discussions and to catch up.

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