Participation in Courts and Tribunals
It is a long-established legal principle in England and Wales that people should be able to participate effectively in the court and tribunal proceedings that directly concern them. This project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, was a unique, cross-jurisdictional study which considered what exactly it means to participate in judicial proceedings, why participation matters, and what factors impede and, conversely, support participation.
The study combined a review of national and international policy with empirical research in criminal and family courts and in employment and immigration and asylum tribunal hearings. The findings point to the multi-faceted nature of participation by lay court users in judicial proceedings.
Participation variously entails any or all of: providing and eliciting information for the court; being informed; being legally represented; being protected; being managed; and being present at the hearing. The functions of participation can be understood in terms of: the exercise of legal rights; enabling court decision-making; legitimation of court proceedings; and the potential generation of therapeutic benefits for the court user.