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Justice for all: Access to Justice across Jurisdictions

Course Level

intermediate - advanced / 3rd - 4th year

Course Language


Course Classification

This is a Themis course. It is also open to non-Themis students.

Teaching Mode

online (live course)

Students have to be present online during the class hours indicated in the electronic course catalogue.

Contact Hours

2 hours per week


5 (if course has been attended regularly and exam has been passed)


This course will be taught at irregular intervals. It will be available in the winter term 2022/23.

Time Schedule

Please see our electronic course catalogue.

Course Content

This course in comparative law examines the legal aid that states provide their citizens and how access to justice is reconceptualized through alternative dispute resolution and online dispute resolution. By looking closer at constitutional provisions, legal documents, and essential readings on the subject, we will explore cases from Brazil, the United States, and across Europe to better understand how different jurisdictions dialogue and what potentialities and limits exist for further extending access to the court system. We will also think more broadly about access to justice, revisiting now-classic theoretical writings on the theme (Mauro Cappelletti and the Florence project), paradigmatic cases in the United States, and more recent international documents demanding legal aid in and for developing countries.

In U.S., institutes such as plea bargaining and plead guilty have been highly criticized by scholars advocating for social change. In light of this literature on access to justice and judicial retrenchment, this course will expose students to cases such as Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), as precedents for the right to counsel under criminal charges and the limits of pleading under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Using the Brazilian scenario, this course will present the students with the challenges of access to justice in developing countries— of ensuring fundamental rights, fighting police brutality, and enforcing rights before the courts. Cases will include challenges to human rights violations of incarcerated populations, lawsuits against land expropriation, claims for compensations for environmental damage, rearrangements in family law, and other landmark cases before the Supreme Court and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. By featuring leading cases on how different parties have access to the courts, students will engage in critical debate over the relationship between access to justice and incarceration rates, the role of lawsuits in fighting inequality, and the unprecedented changes facing courts as they adapt to technological change. We will close by exploring the trends of digitalization and online dispute resolution and to what extent they promise to expand access.

Restricted Enrollment

yes (that means that the number of participants is limited and that you might not get a place in this course)

Course Registration

via Campus Management

Please sign up for this course under the module "Study Program for Exchange Students - Module 5".

registration period: 4 October 2022, 9 a.m. - 14 October 2022, 12 p.m. (noon)

In order to know if you have obtained a place in this course, please check out your course plan on Campus Management (tab "Stundenplan") from 15 October 2022.

As long as there are still seats available after the registration period has expired, they will be allocated according to the principle "first come, first served" if you sign up by 4 November 2022.

De-Registration from this Course

via Campus Management

regular drop period: 4 October 2022, 9 a.m. - 4 November 2022

After the regular drop period you can only drop this course with a valid cause until 14 days prior to the exam. Please contact the International Office at the Law Department if you have to use this option.

Type of Exam

presentation and written summary

Exam Period

The presentations are going to take place throughout the whole course.

Registration for the Exam

International exchange students will automatically be registered for the exam when they sign up for this course.

De-Registration from the Exam

Students who drop this course via Campus Management are automatically de-registered from the exam. Students who do not drop this course via Campus Management and do not take part any longer, are going to finish this course with a non-passing grade (0 points).

Grade Release

via Campus Management