What is Procedural Law?


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Objectives: to show/demonstrate the ‘power of procedure’ in order to attract attention to its often underestimated importance and political dimension.

The procedure we will be talking about is legal procedure (consisting in legal rules, most of which are binding, although there is also soft law). Without going too far into definitions, let’s consider that procedural law is the set of rules which define how private as well as public decisions are made and implemented.

Procedural rules are often said to be secondary rules, in comparison/relation to substantive rules which are primary rules. Procedural rules govern the making as well as the “putting into practice” of substantive rules. Hence the importance of procedural law: it is central to the proper functioning of any legal system, including the administration of justice, even though it may not, at first glance, have the drama or the intrigue of substantive law which states rights and obligations.

However, this does not mean that procedure is only technical. In fact, the current impetus for more legitimacy and accountability in decision-making can only ever be properly understood against a backdrop of material values. Thus, in the field of justice, procedure is supposedly based on values like fairness, equal treatment of parties, impartiality of the judge, adversarial debate, public hearings, which ought to guarantee a fair (and acceptable) result of the proceedings. Is this the case? This mere example shows that to define and critically assess the possibilities and limits of procedural rationality is not that easy.

Enrolment:  This event is open to PhD and Postdoctoral researchers working at any of the Institutes within the Max Planck Law network.

This event will take place online only on the following dates and times.

14 January 2021
14.30 – 16.30

15 January 2021
10.00 – 12.00

Registration is now closed.

Taught by Professor Dr Hélène Ruiz Fabri (Director).

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