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How Objective Can Judges Be: Legal Rule, Evidence, Narratives, Society

This workshop took place from 14 to 16 May 2014 in cooperation with the faculties of law of the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven.

When we set aside the formal and judicial-technical rule of law, we find that legal judgment is subject to various influences: the judge’s profile, the role of language, the importance of scientific methods, the social and political context, … This UCSIA workshop examined if and how legitimate judicial decision-making can be developed, taking into account various subjective influences on the judge, such as his/ her personal and social background, gender, the growing importance of expert opinions and scientific methods, the relationship between the different courts, the development of jurisdiction (international law), … Junior practitioners should learn to ground their judgments on firm professional skills, but should also be aware of subjective influences. Can lay justice enrich legal practice?

The participation of academic keynote speakers and paper presenters guaranteed the academic and multidisciplinary character of the workshop. UCSIA brought together experts of law, penal law, psychology of law and philosophy of law who dialogued with judges and other experts of legal practice, constituting a both diverse and homogeneous panel of reflection.

René Foqué launched the research issues during an introductory public lecture and debate.

Contributors: Mandeep K. Dhami (Middlesex University, London), Freddy Evers, René Foqué (KU Leuven), Antoine Garapon (IHEJ, Paris), Stefan Rutten (University of Antwerp), Lawrence B. Solum (Georgetown University, USA), Edith Van den Broeck (Institute for Legal Training), Miet Vanderhallen (University of Antwerp), Dirk Vanheule (University of Antwerp), Peter van Koppen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Geert Vervaeke (KU Leuven).

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