Innovation in Justice: from practice to theory and back again

May 13 to July 8, 2019

About // Programme // Bio notes // Registration

Daniela Piana (University of Bologna)
Luca Verzelloni (CES)

Nº of registrations

Registration Modality
- Regular (200.00€)


What does innovation mean? What are the different forms and expressions of judicial innovation? What are the risks and opportunities associated with innovation in justice? Why isn't innovation always enough to improve the quality and efficiency of justice? Is it possible to innovate in a sustainable and responsible way? And above all, how can we move from practice to theory and back again?

Innovation is one of the most important and, at the same time, most ambiguous concepts of our times and it is extremely difficult to define and to measure. In recent years, it has become a "collective aspiration", since it represents the "Pole star" that guides governments, international institutions, private companies, the third sector, the scientific community and civil society. The rhetoric that accompanies innovation has ended up transforming it into a sort of religion. In recent years, the affirmation of the "innovation imperative" has given a political connotation to the concept of innovation in the public sector: innovation policies are no longer an exception and have become the rule, ending up being the main method used to manage public systems. This is particularly evident in the judicial sector, both in the global North and global South.

Until recently, the concept of "judicial innovation" was used above all in the Common Law systems, but also in the Civil Law ones, to refer exclusively to jurisprudential creativity, i.e. to the activism of judges and courts in the judicial law-making process. The birth and affirmation of the branch of studies on the administration of justice has gradually revealed a new meaning of the notion of judicial innovation: the introduction of new ideas or behaviour both in judicial systems as a whole and courts on the central and local level. This eLearning course intends to discuss the most recently accepted meaning of judicial innovation. It focuses on the innovations that impact the daily activities of legal professionals, the organization of judicial offices and the governance of judicial systems.

Unlike other initiatives on this topic, this course proposes a change of perspective: it does not use abstract theories to analyse judicial innovations. Instead, it moves back and forth from practice to theory. The starting point is the innovations which have been implemented in many judicial offices all over the world. With this awareness, this course aims to provide participants with conceptual and methodological tools, on the one hand, to interpret the paths of innovation in the judicial field and, on the other, to critically reflect on their possible effects, in terms of access to justice, the capacity to meet society’s demands for justice, the predictability of judicial decisions, transparency, the quality of judicial services, judicial independence and accountability. All this will allow the participants to come to a full circle (metaphorically), that is – this time – to go from theory into practice.

The course has 5 general objectives:
provide specific knowledge and skills to read, understand and manage the transformations taking place in the judicial systems, both in the global North and global South;
explore innovation in and governance of the judicial systems;
reflect on the unexpected, perverse and paradoxical effects of continuous judicial innovation;
propose an active, dynamic and practice-oriented training, according to the participants' interests – considered "protagonists" and not mere "spectators" of this eLearning course;
promote an exchange of national and international experiences among the participants to stimulate a general debate on these issues.

The course is intended for an international audience, inside and outside Europe, both in the global North and global South. This training initiative has three broad types of
target audience. Firstly, professionals and legal practitioners – whatever their function (judges, public prosecutors, lawyers, paralegals, officials, technical consultants,
bailiffs, law enforcement officers, etc.). Secondly, academics and researchers and, specifically, those who deal with complex organizational systems – just like justice –
and those who are interested in studying the interconnections between law and society. Thirdly, policy makers, who deal directly or indirectly with justice, on a national,
regional or international level.

Training methodology
The course is organized in 4 modules. Each module is divided into 3 sub-themes, which introduce some key cross-cut themes. Following the e-UNIFOJ training
methodology, participants have at their disposal:
a) a presentation or a video about the organization of the course and its training contents;
b) a discussion forum where you can discuss your reflections and ask questions to the teachers, as well as interact with the other participants;
c) a live chat with the teachers, to be scheduled at the beginning of the course.
Furthermore, for each module, the following items are provided:
d) a vade mecum with the main research questions and themes, in order to guide the participants and encourage a critical reflection on the course's topics;
e) a series of theoretical and practical materials (scientific articles, book chapters, presentations, documents, diagrams, graphs, videos, etc.);

All materials will be available during the course and up to two months after its closure. Those who complete the course will receive a certificate of participation.

Registration limit: The course will be held with a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 30 participants

Language: English

Duration: 48 hours

Certified Training - Associated State Laboratory | Decree-Law no. 396/2007 of 31/12 | DL no. 125/99, of 20/04 | Statutes of the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra


Module I: Winds of innovation in justice
Luca Verzelloni
1) Institutional, organizational and governance innovations
2) Innovations in case and court management techniques
3) Innovations in the forms and instruments of external communication and social responsibility reporting

Module II: Towards justice 5.0
Daniela Piana
1) When digital technologies meet justice needs
2) Artificial intelligence and algorithms
3) Virtual doors: equal access for all?

Module III: From practice to theory and back again
Luca Verzelloni
1) Forms and expressions of judicial innovation
2) Diffusion of innovations and change management
3) Virtuous and vicious effects of continuous judicial innovation

Module IV: Promoting the quality of justice
Daniela Piana
1) Innovation and the quality of justice
2) How to innovate the policy design
3) How to develop innovation policies

Bio notes

Luca Verzelloni is a researcher at the Centre for Social Studies, member of the research group Democracy, Citizenship and Law and associate researcher of the Research Institute on Judicial Systems of the Italian National Research Council. He obtained his PhD in Sociology and Social Research from the University of Trento. He is the coordinator of the exploratory project "The paradox of the judi-cial innovation in South European Countries", funded by the FCT, he is co-chair of the subgroup "judiciary" of the International Working Group on the Legal Pro-fessions and he is expert trainer of the courses for aspiring directors of the judi-cial offices, organized by the Italian School for the Judiciary. His research inter-ests are centred on the quality of justice, organization, innovation and govern-ance of the judicial systems from a comparative perspective.

Daniela Piana is a professor of political science since 2014 at the University of Bologna, Italy. She was Jean Monnet Fellow (EUI), Fulbright Fellow (UC Berke-ley), and is an associate at the Institut des Hautes Études sur la Justice in Paris and at the Institute of Social Sciences of Politics, ENS Paris Saclay. She coordi-nates "Just Europe", ICEDD Luiss, and collaborates with the School of Magis-trates, the National Lawyers Association and the European Network for Judicial Training. Daniela Piana is co-chair of the Research Group EGPA Sociology of the State and of the Society for Comparative Legislation, member of the Observatory of the impact of the reforms for the economic growth (Cabinet of the Ministry of Justice) and delegate at the permanent round table of OECD on access to justice and Agenda 2030. In 2016 she was appointed by CRUI as member of the stand-ing group «IT and justice» and coordinator of the bilateral round table «Court Organisation».

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