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About the UCL Judicial Institute

The UCL Judicial Institute (JI) is the UK's first and only centre of excellence devoted to research, teaching and policy engagement on the judiciary.

Why a Judicial Institute?

The judiciary is effectively the third branch of government. Today, a wide range of judicial and quasi-judicial bodies have adjudicatory powers affecting the lives of citizens as well as the commercial sector.

Recent constitutional reforms have accentuated the significance of the judiciary in this country. The creation of a separate UK Supreme Court as the final court of appeal has raised questions about the political role of the new court. And the establishment of an independent Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) has brought the issue of judicial appointments to the forefront of policy debate.

Despite such changes, the judiciary remains a limited area of both research and teaching in the UK.

What does the Judicial Institute do?

As the only centre for Judicial Studies in the UK, the UCL Judicial Institute is devoted to:

  • cutting-edge research on the judiciary that has a high policy impact
  • high-level policy work on courts and the judiciary in both the UK and Europe
  • teaching that brings students in direct contact with judges and policy-makers
  • expert seminars addressing key issues facing judges and courts worldwide
  • professional development courses to increase understanding of the judiciary
  • publications and scholarship on the judiciary from home and abroad
  • public events and expert commentary in the media on judicial issues.

Why a Judicial Institute at UCL Laws?

The UCL Laws Faculty is the leading UK Law School in a multi-faculty university that is ranked 11th in the world in 2013 by the QS World University Rankings.

The Laws Faculty is uniquely placed to provide expertise in Judicial Studies. Its directors, Professor Dame Hazel Genn and Professor Cheryl Thomas, are both leading experts on the judiciary, and the Institute is distinctly interdisciplinary.

The JI brings together the country's leading experts in the study of the judiciary and includes expertise in fields such as political science, psychology, statistical analysis, forensic science & neuroscience.

Judicial Institute activities

Research

The UCL Judicial Institute research programme is designed to provide robust empirical evidence about the judicial process. Major current research projects include the: Tribunal Decision-Making Project, UCL Jury Project, Future Justice Project, Menu for Justice and Civil Justice Reform Project.

Teaching

The JI is pioneering educational programmes at all levels to increase understanding of the judiciary. This includes innovative LLM teaching on the judiciary, Europe's first Executive Masters in Judicial Studies, Professional Development Courses educating practitioners about the judiciary and Law Without Walls and Pathways to Law: teaching the next generation.

Policy input

The UCL JI is committed to assisting the development of judicial policies through empirical research and by providing a high-level forum for policy discussions between judges, academics and policy-makers. This includes the UCL JI Seminar Series: Science and Social Science in the Courtroom and the UCL JI Policy Briefings under the Chatham House Rule.

Professional development

The Judicial lnstitute is offering professional development courses for practicing lawyers. Some of these courses are designed to fulfil the recommendations of the Neuberger Panel on educating practitioners about the judiciary prior to applying for judicial posts, while others provide practitioners with new skills and understanding of judicial functions.

Public debate

As part of a programme of public discussion about the key role of the judiciary in law and society, the UCL JI is hosting a Pubic Seminar Series: Science and Social Science in the Courtroom: These seminars are designed to provide understanding of cutting edge work in social and physical sciences that has direct relevance to judicial decision-making.

International

The UCL JI provides Fellowships to leading international experts on the judiciary and sabbaticals for judges from around the world. The Directors serve as UK representative on leading European and international projects on the judiciary, and the Institute conducts innovative comparative research on key issues involving judges and courts.