Trusted courts or distrusting judges? A socio-legal inquiry on judicial activism in Brazil

This paper analyses from a socio-legal perspective how perceptions of low-quality of government and corruption influence people’s view of the Brazilian bureaucracy and, in particular, how judges perceive the quality of the public policy system. And, as a consequence, how these perceptions inform their decision to grant claims seeking individual rights. The argument I present here is that the general belief that the Brazilian political system does not work, and that more generally politicians are untrustworthy, erodes people’s trust in the system and fuels legal actors’ disposition to intervene. In the particular case of judges, their lack of knowledge and experience with policymaking, combined with distrust in the goodwill of politicians fuels their decision to grant the lawsuits filed against the government.

A legitimate court in an unjust system: the case of the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace

The Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace is part of a new comprehensive system to satisfy victims’ rights to truth, justice, reparations and non-repetition. Its creation was agreed upon by the Colombian Government and the main guerrilla group in the country, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), after five decades of armed confrontation. This arrangement is innovative but challenging, particularly with respect to the accountability for and sanctioning of conflict-related crimes. In post-conflict settings, judicial authorities must act differently from ordinary judges in order to be and to be perceived as just. Using Colombia as a case study, and focusing on the newly created Special Jurisdiction for Peace, this paper analyses the challenges that courts face when operating on the above-mentioned “legitimacy deficit” and proposes that criminal courts can make a significant contribution to peace and reconciliation even if not meting out traditional punishments.

Trust and Legitimate Expectations: A Relationship in Need of Conceptualisation

This paper revisits the trust conception of the doctrine of legitimate expectations in the UK. Under this conception, legitimate expectations are premised on the public’s trust in the relevant decision-makers. While I do not take issue with the trust conception per se, I argue that the conception, as theorised in the academic literature and applied by courts, is problematic: the relationship between trust and legitimate expectations requires further conceptualisation. Drawing on the social science scholarship on trust, I suggest that the trust conception suffers from three conceptual conflations: between trust and reliance; between trust’s cognitive and behavioural components; and between trust and trustworthiness. And I illustrate these three conflations using UK cases. The conflations, I submit, must be clarified before public trust can be useful as a theory of legitimate expectations.