Summary: 1. Introduction. – 2. Privatization of civil justice. – 3. The Rule of Law concept. – 4. Does Privatized Justice Undermine or Promote the Rule of Law? – 5. Concluding Remarks.
The crisis of civil justice system is present in many countries in the EU and worldwide and it takes different forms. In response, many different pathways are explored in order to overcome not only the growing sense of crisis, but also its manifestations. One of the suggested routes in the ongoing efforts to improve access to civil justice at the EU and national levels is the privatization of justice through the ADR mechanisms. In many areas, with the encouragement and support of governments and other policy-making bodies, the administration of justice is being encouraged to leave the courts for alternative forums. Thereby, the ADR are presented as mechanisms which are facilitating informal, fast, cost-effective and affordable access to justice, at the same time preserving public resources. Yet, in spite of these undeniable benefits, ADR mechanisms are subject of some doubts and expressed concerns.
One of the major concerns, which has already sparked a wider debate, is whether the informal and private nature of ADR is hostile to the Rule of Law and ultimately to justice itself. Namely, if the privatization of civil justice is considered in the context of the fundamental public commitment to provide substantive justice on an equal basis to all citizens, the question arises whether the ADR mechanisms are capable to secure and foster the virtues of the Rule of Law (publicity, transparency, fairness, equality, etc.).
The purpose of this paper is to contribute to this debate, renewing the interest in analysing the relationship between the privatization of civil justice and the concept of the Rule of Law. In the light of evolving social, economic and political circumstances, the paper attempts to answer the question whether the growing privatized dispute resolution landscape is undermining or promoting the rule of law.