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Research

The UCL Judicial Institute research programme is designed to provide robust empirical evidence about the judicial process. Find out our ongoing and completed projects

Judges

The Judicial Institute's (JI) Judicial Research Programme is the UK's only dedicated programme of empirical research exploring the process of judicial decision-making, judicial attitudes, the judicial process, judicial appointments, training and education, and it also provides expert advice to policy-makers on reform of the courts and judicial processes.

UCL JI UK Supreme Court and JCPC Project

In 2011 the UCL Judicial Institute established a new research programme on the UK Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Its starting point is a detailed, large-scale database of all UK Supreme Court and JCPC decisions since the establishment of the UK Supreme Court in 2009. This forms the basis of research aimed at establishing an understanding of the work of the UK Supreme Court as it develops, including the role of UK Supreme Court Justices as the core membership of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The aim of the UCL JI Project is not to reduce the work of the Court only to statistical analysis of decisions. Instead the aim is to use empirical analysis of decisions as the basis for a more detailed contextual analysis of the work of the Court.

The UCL UK Supreme Court and JCPC Project will grow with the Court’s and Committee’s outputs, and provide the material for a continuing longitudinal study of the UK Supreme Court as it develops over time.

Download a summary of the findings to date: 

Juries

The UCL Jury Project has pioneered the study of jury decision-making in the criminal courts in this country, using innovative research methods and working only with actual jurors at court. Landmark studies include Are Juries Fair? and Diversity and Fairness in the Jury System, both of which tackle sensitive and controversial issues about the fairness of trial by jury.

Diversity and Fairness in the Jury System

Based on continuing concerns about the under representation of ethnic minorities on juries in this country, the Jury Diversity Project addressed two key questions:

How representative of the local community are those summoned for jury service, those serving as jurors and juries at each Crown Court in England and Wales? Does ethnicity affect jury decision-making?

Download a summary of the findings: 

Are Juries Fair?

This research asked how fair is the jury decision-making process?

It explored a number of aspects of jury fairness for the first time in this country, and asked specifically:

  • Do all-White juries discriminate against BME defendants?
  • Do jurors racially stereotype defendants?
  • Do juries at certain courts rarely convict?
  • Do juries rarely convict on certain offences?
  • Do jurors understand legal directions?
  • Do jurors know what to do about improper conduct in the jury room?
  • Are jurors aware of media coverage of their cases?
  • How is the internet affecting jury trials?
    Download a summary of the findings: 
Juror Contempt

‘Are Juries Fair’ raised a number of questions that could not be answered by that study but are key to determining how best to ensure jurors do not fall foul of the contempt rules and that an effective system of collective responsibility operates on juries across the country.

The UCL Jury Project is currently conducting follow up research to address these issues. The focus of this research is in understanding what jurors were aware of, what they did during the time they served on a jury and what their understanding and views are of the jury process.

Download a summary of the findings: 

 

Tribunals

The Tribunals Research Programme includes a path-breaking study of decision-making by tribunal panels funded by the Nuffield Foundation and conducted in co-operation with the Tribunals Service. The Programme also includes research on tribunal users' perceptions of the fairness of the tribunal process.

Tribunal Decision-Making: An Empirical Study

Tribunals play a vital role in the administrative justice system, resolving over one million disputes a year between individuals and the state, yet little is known about what influences tribunal decision-making.

To coincide with the establishment of the new Tribunals Service, the UCL Judicial Institute has developed a new programme of research on tribunal decision-making.  A crucial issue of concern in recent years has been the value of oral hearings and whether the type of hearing affects a claimant's chance of a positive outcome.



The research project uses an innovative and rigorous methodology to tackle the problem of determining what the use and value of oral hearings are in tribunal proceedings.

Download a summary of the findings: 

Judicial diversity

Members of the Judicial Institute have conducted this country's first empirical analysis of the judicial appointment process, explored reasons for highly qualified practitioners not applying for senior judicial posts, and have provided expert advice to government on increasing judicial diversity working with the JAC, Neuberger Panel and current Judicial Appointments Review.

Future justice

The Future Justice Programme explores the changing role of judges and courts in the 21st century. This includes the Virtual Justice Programme which utilises the UCL Laws Moot Courtroom and new high tech facilities to explore the impact of the use of technology and virtual courtroom procedures on the justice system.

Civil justice

Members of the Judicial Institute are international authorities in civil justice, dispute resolution and public use of the legal system. This includes landmark studies on Paths to Justice and the recent Hamlyn Lectures Judging Civil Justice. Current research includes the Civil Justice Reform Project.