Far-reaching changes are presently occurring in legal systems. The rule of law is becoming less self-evident in several countries worldwide. New types of crime – like organizational crime, human trafficking, money laundering and various types of online crime – are on the rise. Several miscarriages of justice have been detected worldwide, creating an imperative for in-depth analysis of their potential causes. The involvement of disciplines other than the legal in the court system is becoming increasingly important. A considerable challenge is posed by the communication between the legal discipline and the social sciences and forensic disciplines.
This booklet, an enriched version of the author’s inaugural lecture, examines the extent to which empirical studies are used in legal practice, how more extensive use could be promoted, and what risks are associated with these studies being ignored. The lecture also contains a look into the future: various new topics for research are presented. It thereby intends to help to promote further growth of the field of Empirical Legal Studies.