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Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review x Jaar 2015 x
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Access_open A View from the Sky

A General Overview about Civil Litigation in the United States with Reference to the Relief in Small and Simple Matters

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2015
Trefwoorden civil procedure, United States, small and simple matters
Auteurs Manuel Gomez en Juan Carlos Gomez
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article, which is based on the research conducted for the General Report ‘Relief in Small and Simple Matters in an Age of Austerity’ presented at the XV World Congress of Procedural Law, provides a contextualised and broad overview of these phenomena in the United States. After describing the general features of the federal and state judiciaries, including its adversarial model of judging, and the importance of the jury system, the article turns its attention to discuss the factors that affect the cost of litigation in the United States, the different models of litigation funding, the available legal aid mechanisms, and the procedural tools available for handling small and simple disputes. Furthermore, this article briefly revisits the discussion about the effect of austerity on the functioning of the United States legal system on the handling of small and simple matters and ends with a brief conclusion that summarises its contribution and sketches the points for future research on this important topic.


Manuel Gomez
Manuel Gomez is Associate Professor of Law and Associate Dean of International and Graduate Students at the Florida International University College of Law.

Juan Carlos Gomez
Juan Carlos Gomez is Director of the Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at the Florida International University College of Law.

    The doctrinal methodology is in a period of change and transition. Realising that the scope of the doctrinal method is too constricting, academic lawyers are becoming eclectic in their use of research method. In this transitional time, legal scholars are increasingly infusing evidence (and methods) from other disciplines into their reasoning to bolster their reform recommendations.
    This article considers three examples of the interplay of the discipline of law with other disciplines in the pursuit of law reform. Firstly the article reviews studies on the extent of methodologies and reformist frameworks in PhD research in Australia. Secondly it analyses a ‘snapshot’ of recently published Australian journal articles on criminal law reform. Thirdly, it focuses on the law reform commissions, those independent government committees that play such an important role in law reform in common law jurisdictions.
    This examination demonstrates that while the doctrinal core of legal scholarship remains intact, legal scholars are endeavouring to accommodate statistics, comparative perspectives, social science evidence and methods, and theoretical analysis, within the legal research framework, in order to provide additional ballast to the recommendations for reform.


Terry Hutchinson
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, QUT Law School (t.hutchinson@qut.edu.au); Marika Chang (QUT Law School) was the research assistant on this project.
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