UCL Faculty of Laws


Professor Pascoe Pleasence and Dr Nigel J. Balmer publish in Modern Law Review

18 September 2017

Pascoe Pleasance and Nigel Balmer

Professor Pascoe Pleasence, Professor of Empirical Legal Studies at UCL Faculty of Laws, and Dr Nigel J. Balmer, Reader in Law and Social Statistics at UCL Laws, have published ‘Wrong about Rights: Public Knowledge of Key Areas of Consumer, Housing and Employment Law in England and Wales’ alongside Dr Catrina Denvir, Ulster University, in the academic journal Modern Law Review.

Over many decades, processes of juridification have brought about huge growth in legal rights, responsibilities and protections, yet citizens appear to poorly understand this ‘law thick’ world. This impacts citizens’ capacity to ‘name, blame and claim’ in the legal domain at a time of retreat from public funding of civil legal services.

The article examines public knowledge of rights in key areas relating to consumer, housing and employment law. Drawing on data from the 2010–2012 English and Welsh Civil and Social Justice Survey, the article uses responses to a series of hypothetical scenarios to explore public knowledge of rights and characteristics associated with knowledge.

The academics’ findings highlight a substantial deficit in individuals’ understanding of legal rights and responsibilities – even among those for whom particular rights and responsibilities have specific bearing. They also consider what these findings mean for public legal education and the efficiency, efficacy and legitimacy of the law.

Read the full abstract