Is there something like the ‘Great Litigation Increase’?

Activity: Talk or presentation / Performance / SpeechesTalk or presentation - at conferenceAcademic


Currently, the constant increasing amount of litigation in Europe is a real concern for many people: litigants, judges, lawyers and policy makers. The ever increasing amount of litigation tends to overburden the judicial system, and thus its accessibility. Although the litigation rate in a society appears to depend on factors such as population, economic activity, cost of litigation, applicable law, other more intangible factors, such as trust in a legal system, also play a role. The ‘great litigation decline’ in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, can help to illustrate this point.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many courts in Europe appear to witness a remarkable decline in the amount of litigation. This ‘great litigation decline’ appears to have particularly affected North-Western European territories. Although this decline in litigation has not yet been convincingly explained by factors, such as population, economic activity, cost of litigation, this paper focuses on the inevitable turning point.
Somewhere between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many North Western European countries witnessed a turning point: the ‘great litigation decline’ came to an end, and turned into a more or less constant litigation increase. In this paper, this turning point between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries will be mapped for a number of regional and higher courts in the Low Countries – Belgium and the Netherlands – and the adjacent Rhineland. The registers of (local) judicial archives will be used to investigate when this turning point took place in this – North Western – part of Europe. This information can help to subsequently investigate the conditions – including the availability of national codifications – for the current, more litigious European society.
Period30 Jun 2018
Event titleEuropean Society for Comparative Legal History: 5th Biennial Conference
Event typeConference
Conference number5
LocationParis, FranceShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational