The Castle of Law

January 21, 2020, 15h00

Room 1, CES | Alta


The Castle of the Law exists. It is visible. It is potentially accessible. But reality shows, as Franz Kafka has rightly described, that there are barriers and difficulties in entering and accessing rights and guarantees that only within the "Castle" can be recovered or realized. And only a few people have the skills and knowledge to walk through the "maze" of access to the Castle of Law, in other words, access to the law and justice provided by the judicial system is in general an intermediated access. Furthermore, even though the Rule of Law provides that the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people can access the courts for free, or under less costly conditions, to safeguard their legally protected rights and interests, the practice denounces the existence of multiple barriers.

This seminar seeks to bring to the discussion and sharing of knowledge and experience some of the challenges to the right of access to law and justice. Several decades have passed since the comparative studies of Bryan Garth and Mauro Capelletti. However, despite many reforms, studies continue to show that countries have models of access to law and justice that do not allow to overcome multiple obstacles, whether physical, virtual, bureaucratic, financial or others.

The challenges posed by access to law and justice in digital times and the assessment of access to justice as a fundamental dimension of the quality of justice provided to citizens, including the need to ensure the working conditions capable of fulfilling this purpose, are topics rarely included in this discussion. That is why we try to bring the metaphor of Kafka Castle to the intricacies of the courts, in order to build less labyrinthine paths to access the Castle of Law and Justice.


Cléber Alves: Outside the Walls: The Global Access to Justice Project
Daniela Piana: Virtual Towers: Access to Justice in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
Luca Verzelloni, Teresa Maneca Lima and Paula Casaleiro: Inside the Castle:  (in)visible bridges between the quality of justice and working conditions  (QUALIS project)

Moderation / Comments: João Paulo Dias / Conceição Gomes

Activity within the research project “QUALIS - Qualidade da Justiça em Portugal Impacto das condições de trabalho no desempenho profissional de juízes e magistrados do Ministério Público" (ref. POCI-01-0145-FEDER-029039)