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‘Listing concentrates the mind’: the English Civil Court as an arena for structured negotiation

Roberts, Simon (2009) ‘Listing concentrates the mind’: the English Civil Court as an arena for structured negotiation. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 29 (3). pp. 457-479. ISSN 0143-6503

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Identification Number: 10.1093/ojls/gqp019


The dominant image of courts as agencies of trial and judgment has a long history in the common law world. Yet across that region sponsorship of settlement is now widely identified as the courts’ primary responsibility, transforming them into sites where the profoundly different rationalities that ground negotiated agreement increasingly supersede those of rule-based adjudication. This study examines the work of one English court—the Mayor’s and City of London Court—in sponsoring settlement and considers how that role is legitimated on both propositional and symbolic levels. This evolving role raises questions about the Victorian court premises themselves. How are we to regard the now frequently empty courtrooms, designed for trial and judgment and decorated with Gothic elevations linking them symbolically with processes of medieval kingship? Should we simply see this Victorian site of contemporary settlement processes as no more than the quaint residue of a vanished era? Or can these historic features retain potency and relevance at a symbolic level, providing legitimacy for bilateral negotiation rather than the open processes of trial and judgment for which they were originally constructed?

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2009 Simon Roberts
Divisions: Law
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2009 15:45
Last Modified: 20 May 2024 05:27

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