OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

The Economics of Civil Justice

New Cross-country Data and Empirics

Combining existing information with a newly collected dataset, the paper develops indicators of the performance and the institutional characteristics of OECD judicial systems. It provides cross-country comparisons of measures of trial length, accessibility to justice services and predictability of decisions. It then investigates how trial length is related to some of the underlying characteristics of the systems. There is a large cross-country variation in trial length and in appeal rates (a proxy of the predictability of decisions), which are only partially explained by restrictions to appeal. Cross-country differences in trial length are related to the shares of the justice budget devoted to computerisation, the systematic production of statistics on case-flow, the active management of the progress of cases by courts, the presence of specialised commercial courts and systems of court governance assigning greater managerial responsibilities to the chief judge. Indicators of good public governance are associated with lower litigation, which in turn has a significant impact on trial length. Free negotiation of lawyers’ fees, as opposed to regulated fees, appears to be associated with lower litigation.


Keywords: institutional characteristics of judicial systems, judicial performance, accessibility, appeal rates
JEL: K40: Law and Economics / Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior / Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior: General; D02: Microeconomics / General / Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact; K41: Law and Economics / Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior / Litigation Process
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