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Yet another successful student conference ‘Empirical legal research and private law’

Why is empirical legal research important for legal practice and academic research? That was the question master’s students specialising in civil law, corporate law, and financial law tried to answer at the annual conference on empirical legal research and private law that was held on 30 September.

During the conference, students gained insights into the different ways in which empirical research can be beneficial and essential for legislation.

The kick-off was provided by Gitta Veldt, ILS civil law and educational coordinator of Empirical Legal Studies, and Alette Jansen, coordinator ILS corporate law. They held a short introduction on the ongoing initiatives in the field of Empirical Legal Studies, both at Leiden Law School as well as nationwide. The students were subsequently provided with three excellent examples of empirical legal research.

Empirical research into defensive actions by doctors

The first speaker of the day was Shosha Wiznitzer, researcher for the Dutch Council for the Judiciary. She talked about her PhD research at the University of Utrecht into defensive doctors. Shosha elaborated on how she had included empirical research into her project. She also addressed the added value that empirical research had for her work.

‘Biases’ in financial and judicial assessments in the context of insolvency

Next up was Niek Strohmaier, Assistant Professor, who talked about his research into the psychology of judicial assessment processes, in particular in the context of administrative liability. He explained how people, which naturally include judges and lawyers, are prone to all kinds of prejudices (biases), especially when they are having to assess complex matters. In particular, he addressed the influence of moral intuition on judicial assessment processes and also the difficulties of having to judge after the fact while having knowledge of the outcome, positive or negative, of a case.

Good employership and the influence of insights from organisational psychology in relation to the wellbeing of employees

Finally, Helen Pluut and Merel Cornax spoke about their research into good employership. Helen Pluut is Associate Professor at Leiden Law School, project leader of the sector plan goal Legal Studies and Director of the National ELS Academy. Merel Cornax is PhD fellow at the Department of Business Studies at Leiden Law School. In their presentation, they explained how they intended to use their knowledge and insights to create an open standard for good employership.

After the presentations, the speakers entered into a discussion with the students on the importance of empirical legal research. Statements such as ‘legislation should be predominantly based on empiric data’ and ‘traditional legal research will become less important’ passed the revue.

All in all, it was a successful afternoon in which the students gained insights into the usefulness and necessity of empirical legal research into law. The discussion was continued over drinks afterwards.

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