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Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context

CLSGC Ad Hoc Seminar - Professor Elaine Mak (Utrecht)

10 January 2018

Time: 3:00 - 5:00pm
Venue: Room 313, Third Floor, Law Building, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, E1 4NS

This event is a The Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context (CLSGC) Ad Hoc Seminar chaired by Dr Maks Del Mar (QMUL). This seminar will highlight the work of Professor Elaine Mak (Utrecht University), on a research project, 'Towards a European judicial culture?', which is funded with a five-year VIDI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

About the Project

Project leader: Professor Elaine Mak (Utrecht University)

The Lisbon Treaty (2009) has set new goals for judicial cooperation between member states of the European Union (EU) with an eye to providing effective legal remedies and fundamental rights protection. In this context, alignment of national values and practices regarding the judicial function is stimulated by the European Commission’s agenda (e.g. judicial training) and fostered by autonomous practices of ‘transnational borrowing’ between courts in Europe. However, it remains unclear to what extent national judicial cultures, i.e. ideas and practices regarding judging and judicial organisation which have developed over time, can and should converge into a shared ‘European judicial culture’.

This research project analyses the possibilities and constraints regarding further alignment of judicial cultures in Europe, focusing on the EU. Comparative-legal and empirical studies describe and explain the content and development of three aspects of judicial culture: 1) professional values and standards for judges (ethical dimension); 2) judicial role perceptions in the interpretation of legal rules and concepts for European cases (legal dimension); and 3) the building of judicial trust between courts and judges in Europe (institutional dimension). Focus is on developments concerning the judiciaries in selected EU member states and on European judicial networks. A constitutional-theoretical normative analysis integrates the findings of these studies to establish whether European constitutional consensus on main aspects of judicial functioning can develop in accordance with the liberal-democratic objective of guaranteeing the ‘rule of law’, defined here as the prevention of the arbitrary use of power. This analysis will take into account the constitutional treatment of legal and societal pluralism, including responses to national tendencies of support and resistance of European integration.

This research responds to the demands of legal professionals and citizens in the evolving European legal context by providing reference points for judicial cooperation. Academically, the project contributes to the emerging field of more systematic comparative-legal and multidisciplinary research on globalisation and legal systems.

About the Speaker

Elaine Mak's research connects a legal-theoretical perspective with studies in comparative constitutional law and empirical analysis (inter alia surveys, interviews). In her research, she focuses on the functioning of the institutions of government (legislature, executive branch, and in particular the judiciary) in Western liberal democracies in an evolving legal context.

Between 2008-2011, she conducted research regarding the changing role of highest courts in Western countries under the effects of the globalisation of law and legal systems. This research was financed with a Veni grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and culminated in the monograph Judicial Decision-Making in a Globalised World: A Comparative Analysis of the Changing Practices of Western Highest Courts (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2013). In May 2016, she was awarded a Vidi grant by NWO for a five-year research project regarding the development of judicial cultures in the European Union.

Elaine Mak holds law degrees from Rotterdam and Paris. She obtained her PhD degree at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2008 and from January 2014 until May 2016 was Professor of Empirical Study of Public Law as well as Director of the Erasmus Graduate School of Law. She was a member of the editorial board of the Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy (NJLP) and is a member of the board of the Netherlands Association for Philosophy of Law.


For directions to the venue, please refer to the map.

How to book

This event is free but prior booking is required. Register online via Eventbrite.


For more information on this event, please email

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