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First Dutch Encyclopaedia Empirical Legal Studies

Researchers from the NSCR, University of Groningen, WODC and VU University have compiled the first Dutch Encyclopaedia for Empirical Legal Studies (ELS). This encyclopaedia provides a systematic overview of what has been done on ELS over the past 25 years, what the findings from these studies mean for law, and of pressing empirical questions in the field of law.

More and more often, legally relevant questions are answered in various areas of law, such as family law, liability law, law of evidence or (international) criminal law, using empirical research. Such empirical legal research focuses on the assumptions on which the law is based, the way in which that law functions in practice and the effects of the law.

Implications for legal practice

The Dutch Encyclopaedia Empirical Legal Studies provides a systematic overview of the state of affairs within the various sub-areas of law, and of the extent to which the empiricism of law has penetrated and influences the formation of law itself. In 34 chapters, various authors describe the findings from the empirical legal research that has been carried out in their field of law in the Netherlands over the past 25 years and the implications for legal practice. They also indicate where future research should focus.

Assumptions in legislation and case law further examined

The chapters show that there is a great need for factual knowledge about legal practice. How often is an appeal lodged and in what kind of cases? Are miscarriages of justice related to how police interrogations are conducted? What role do expert reports play in the judgment of the judge? Are victims satisfied with compensation in cash or do they have other wishes? Assumptions based on legislation and case law are also discussed. Think of the need that would exist among victims to speak at the hearing about, among other things, guilt and punishment of the suspect. Or the assumption that reports of suspects are always correct. Empirical research into these assumptions can help improve legal practice. Finally, the need for meta-analyses of empirical-legal research is mapped out. The Dutch Encyclopaedia Empirical Legal Studies thus forms a reference point for what has been done on ELS in the Netherlands in the past 25 years and a benchmark for the years to come.

Publication details and further reading

Bijleveld, C., Akkermans, A., Malsch, M., Marseille, B. & Smit, M. (2020). De Nederlandse Encyclopedie Empirical Legal Studies. Boom Juridisch, Den Haag.

Prof. Catrien Bijleveld LL.M.

Senior Researcher

Prof. Marijke Malsch LL.M.

Senior Research Fellow

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