The Democratic Courthouse? Unravelling the complex relationship between design, due process and dignity in English courts

vrijdag 27 sep 2019, 12:00 - 17:00
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Rotterdam, Erasmus University, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, Mandeville Building, Room T3-20

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On 27 September the VSR and the ESL-research programme ‘Rethinking the Rule of Law’ are organising a socio-legal seminar at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. During this meeting, Linda Mulcahy (Professor of Socio-Legal Studies and the Director of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford) will present her research titled The Democratic Courthouse? Unravelling the complex relationship between design, due process and dignity in English courts’. Xandra Kramer (Professor of Private Law at the Erasmus School of Law and Professor of Private International Law at Utrecht University) will discuss Professor Mulcahy’s work.

Additionally, Jos Hoevenaars (Postdoctoral Researcher at the Erasmus School of Law) will present results of his doctoral research titled ‘A people’s court? A bottom-up approach to litigation before the European Court of Justice’. This presentation will be discussed by Jasper Krommendijk (Associate Professor of International and European Law at the Radboud University Nijmegen). Subsequently, Paulien de Winter (Lecturer and Researcher at the University of Groningen) will present her recently defended doctoral research ‘Between the rules’, a social-legal study of the enforcement of social security law in the Netherlands. Nadine Raaphorst (Assistant Professor at the Institute of Public Administration at Leiden University) will be the discussant of her presentation.

Entrance is free of change, but please confirm your attendance by filling out the form below.


  • 12.00-13.00 Lunch
  • 13.00-13.10 Opening
  • 13.10-14.00 Keynote by Linda Mulcahy
  • 14.00-14.20 Discussant Xandra Kramer
  • 14.30-15.00 Coffee and Tea break
  • 15.00-15.30 Presentation by Jos Hoevenaars
  • 15.30-15.15 Discussant Jasper Krommendijk
  • 16.00-16.30 Presentation by Paulien de Winter
  • 16.30-16.45 Discussant Nadine Raaphorst
  • 17.00 Drinks

About Linda Mulcahy

Linda Mulcahy is the Professor of Socio-legal Studies and the Director of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.  She has degrees in law, legal theory, sociology and art history and her work has a strong interdisciplinary flavour. Linda has previously held posts at the LSE, Birkbeck, the Law Commission and Bristol University. She regularly acts as a research consultant to government bodies, regulators and NGOs. Linda is currently a member of the Council of Justice and the advisory board of the British Library oral history programme.  She is a former Chair of the Socio-Legal Studies Association and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

About Linda Mulcahy’s paper

This paper will examine the relationship between architectural design, due process and dignity in the context of stakeholder discussions about the work that courthouses are expected to do in the contemporary public sphere. More particularly it considers what courthouses are intended to symbolise, the effect they have on the many publics that use them and the sorts of behaviour that design facilitates. Drawing on a detailed analysis of public and private government archives funded by the Leverhulme Trust, this paper will chart how civil servants, judges, lawyers, architects, engineers and security experts have talked about courthouses over a 50 year period.  In doing so, it uncovers a changing history of ideas about the ways in which the competing goals of transparency, majesty, participation, security, fairness and authority have been approached and the extent to which aspirations towards popular sovereignty, egalitarianism and participation have been realized in physical form.    

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