The Judicial Domain in View: figures, trends and perspectives
Where will the Dutch judicial system be in 2015? One of us answered a similar type of question elsewhere with a sketch of two frightening scenarios.* In the first scenario the judicial system will have insufficiently adapted itself to its surroundings. The judicial system will become more intensively involved in a decreasing amount of cases that gradually carry less weight. The judicial system, as a social phenomenon, will be marginalized even though the traditional standards of constitutional legitimacy and professionalism of the administration of justice are kept up. Interesting or big cases will be handled outside the judiciary by special courts or through arbitration, mediation or other forms of “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR). The large amount of bulk cases will be transferred to other legal areas or authorities where the involvement of the judge will decrease (for example the Mulderizing of criminal cases, or settlement by the Public Prosecutor). With the decrease in jurisdiction the authority of the judicial system will decline and eventually prise itself out of the market. In the second frightening scenario the judicial system will have adapted itself too much to its surroundings. Van Gunsteren once sketched a picture of the court as a dynamic centre for settling conflicts, a place where the experts fall over each other with seminars, workshops, courses, and new methods. Instead of settling conflicts they get copied within the judicial organization itself.† The judicial system, with its well-meaning efforts at being responsive, will have distanced itself from its core duties: settling disputes through binding judgments. While the judicial system has lost touch with its surroundings in the first scenario, it has lost its own self in the second scenario.