NSCR has initiated a national project called Empirical Legal Studies (ELS) to improve the use of empirical methods in the law discipline. The initiative applies to criminal law, civil law, and administration law. NWO has provided a budget to NSCR to run the project. Its particular aim is to have science and legal practice working together in setting up the ELS initiative.
Much has happened in the last couple of months. A steering committee has been established, chaired by Fred Hammerstein (former judge Supreme Court). Other members of the steering committee are: Prof. Dineke de Groot (VU University Amsterdam), Prof. Jan Vranken (Tilburg University), Prof. Bert Marseille (University of Groningen), Dr. Monika Smit (Research and Documentation Centre; WODC), Prof. Arno Akkermans (VU University Amsterdam), Dr. Nieke Elbers (NSCR) and Dr. Marijke Malsch (NSCR). On the 22nd of March, the Council of Law Deans has indicated to support the initiative.
On 1st of April, Nieke Elbers (firstname.lastname@example.org) started working at NSCR, as a postdoc, running the ELS initiative. She will be the contact person for various ELS activities. She will write a couple of reviews about what kind of ELS research is being conducted in The Netherlands and abroad and about what the knowledge gaps are. She will closely collaborate with the various participants.
On the 8th of April, a national brainstorm meeting took place to kick off the initiative. Several invitees from the law sciences and legal practice exchanged views about what they considered important ELS topics, which direction we should go, and what the needs are for ELS research and education. The participants considered it very important that a call for grant proposals will push the initiative forward.
On the 11th of April, the Ius Commune research school and the WODC organised a meeting about ELS education for PhD researchers and other scholars. A tripartite initiative of Ius Commune, WODC, and NSCR will be building a network to map existing ELS education and to develop new ELS education.
In Autumn, the results of the empirical legal studies research, under which a review of Dutch ELS research, will be presented during a national conference. The conference will eventually result in a Research Agenda.