ENQUIRE PROJECT DETAILS BY GENERAL PUBLIC

Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 14609215
Project Title(English) : Strategic Litigation: An International and Comparative Study  
Project Title(Chinese) : 戰略性訴訟:國際與比較研究 
Principal Investigator(English) : Prof Ramsden, Michael 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) :  
Department : Faculty of Law
Institution : The Chinese University of Hong Kong
E-mail Address : michaelramsden@cuhk.edu.hk 
Tel : 26961141 
Co - Investigator(s) :
Mr Gledhill, Kris
Prof Marsh , Luke
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exercise Year : 2015 / 16
Fund Approved : 351,496
Project Status : Completed
Completion Date : 30-9-2018
Project Objectives :
To trace the rise of strategic litigation in international and domestic settings as a tool for effectuating legal reform, distilling the key emerging trends.
To ascertain what is the optimal legal environment or environments, including, potentially, multi- or trans-jurisdictional litigation pursuits, for instituting effective strategic litigation campaigns.
Conversely, to identify instances where strategic litigation has failed to deliver on its objectives, where it may have even been counterproductive to the litigated cause, and where its limitations exist (e.g. problem of standing, difficulties of implementation).
To identify best practices in terms of choosing appropriate clients, claims, and procedural mechanisms, including any limitations on domestic and/or international mechanisms and the factors as to why one may be better than the other in certain circumstances.
To analyze budgetary concerns and constraints in conducting strategic litigation campaigns and explain why they may or may not be comparatively cost-effective in terms of initiating social justice reform.
To ascertain the full extent of any professional ethical problems that may arise in strategic litigation, such as a client’s prolonged involvement for some years as appeal and international mechanisms are exhausted.
To analyse the role of strategic litigation as part of the range of techniques that can be used to secure social justice, and how to use it in conjunction with other methods of seeking to reform the law (e.g. fostering public discussion, building coalitions, empowering marginalized groups), whether on a domestic or transnational scale.
Abstract as per original application
(English/Chinese):

着创业组织和倡导者的努力的结果,“策略性诉讼”有 产生了许多弱势群体显著的好处。术语“战略性诉讼”有 获得货币近年来,但是这是没有定义或研究的一个概念 系统。该项目的目的是确定,分析和推广最佳实践 战略性诉讼。 我们认为,“策略性诉讼”是涉及到精心挑选的律师业方法 案件采取法院和其他裁决机构,以实现影响深远的法律改革。 重点是寻求发展,将解决不仅由所带来的问题原则 客户端,但设置可以被其他人使用的先例;这可能也涉及设置建筑物 块的原则,未来的扩展。在国内法院存在这样的机制,但有 也存在可被用作一诉讼策略的一部分区域和国际机制。 这GRF项目将探索战略性诉讼的意义,作用和效用。它将提供 战略的形成,中,客户端和论坛选择方法的第一手分析 成本和实际物流方面的考虑。战略性诉讼将来自于一系列的检查 瞭望点,包括国内,国际比较的角度,以便 包容性。 该项目将产生的国际研究成果有价值,不同的利益相关者。首先,将 该项目的组成部分,是一个研讨会系列,每个专题讨论会探索不同 主题,并提供一个联络点,关键利益相关者参与知识交流和 进一步的合作。其次,每个研讨会将提供机会调查 以反映在不同上下文中战略性诉讼的用途,具有至少7轴颈 文章计划对应的研讨会系列的主题发布。第三,该 从这一提议产出还将包括建立一个战略性诉讼皮系列, 由香港中文大学的中心权利和司法研究门户管理,其上专题讨论会 参加者将被邀请提交他们的论文。研究者将寻求国际新闻 从研讨会发表的最显著文件编辑后的集合,与 调查作为卷的编辑。最后,该项目将有利于活动家,公民社会 机构,并通过了生产的实用指南,这将是对那些从事法律诊所 在这样的社区广为传播。
Realisation of objectives: All of these objectives have, to varying degrees, been met, despite the project encountering difficulties due to the unexpected resignation of its Research Assistant mid-way through the project. In total, the investigators produced three journal articles (two published and one pending) and presented at seven international conference/events. Presenting at these conferences also brought derivative benefits, in that the investigators were able to conduct interviews with practitioners of strategic litigation (in addition to presentations the investigators attended other events for information exchange with relevant stakeholders, including 'Strategic Litigation for Social Justice', held at Chatham House, London, on 14 March 2018). Such interviews in particular enriched the paper published in the Civil Justice Quarterly titled 'Defining Strategic Litigation', prepared as part of this project. The interviews also enabled the investigators to forge future collaboration links; a derivative of this project will be the production of a major multi author work 'Comparative Strategic Litigation' that is likely to be published by Edward Elgar Press (the reviews of the book proposal have been very positive subject to some minor modifications which the investigators are currently making to the proposal). That said, the number of outputs that would have enabled the full achievement in particular of objectives 3, 5 and 6 was hindered by the problem of recruiting a suitably qualified research assistant. The investigators applied for additional funding from CUHK to match the funding provided by the RGC so that the hiring of a high quality research assistant could be made possible. On this basis, a research assistant was appointed in September 2016 but she subsequently resigned with little notice in July 2017 having received a fully funded scholarship to complete an LLM in international law at Columbia Law School, Columbia University. Her sudden resignation caused difficulties in being able to recruit a suitable replacement, having regard to the completion date of the GRF and given that the principal investigator (Ramsden) was on sabbatical from October 2017 - September 2018, and prior to that on leave working at the International Criminal Court (June-September 2018). Given that the project only had a research assistant for part of its duration in turn led to the budget surplus indicated in this report, given that the majority of it was allocated for the hiring of a research assistant.
Summary of objectives addressed:
Objectives Addressed Percentage achieved
1.To trace the rise of strategic litigation in international and domestic settings as a tool for effectuating legal reform, distilling the key emerging trends.Yes100%
2.To ascertain what is the optimal legal environment or environments, including, potentially, multi- or trans-jurisdictional litigation pursuits, for instituting effective strategic litigation campaigns.Yes100%
3.Conversely, to identify instances where strategic litigation has failed to deliver on its objectives, where it may have even been counterproductive to the litigated cause, and where its limitations exist (e.g. problem of standing, difficulties of implementation).Yes40%
4.To identify best practices in terms of choosing appropriate clients, claims, and procedural mechanisms, including any limitations on domestic and/or international mechanisms and the factors as to why one may be better than the other in certain circumstances.Yes80%
5.To analyze budgetary concerns and constraints in conducting strategic litigation campaigns and explain why they may or may not be comparatively cost-effective in terms of initiating social justice reform.Yes30%
6.To ascertain the full extent of any professional ethical problems that may arise in strategic litigation, such as a client’s prolonged involvement for some years as appeal and international mechanisms are exhausted.Yes20%
7.To analyse the role of strategic litigation as part of the range of techniques that can be used to secure social justice, and how to use it in conjunction with other methods of seeking to reform the law (e.g. fostering public discussion, building coalitions, empowering marginalized groups), whether on a domestic or transnational scale.Yes100%
Research Outcome
Major findings and research outcome: It is not possible to cover all of the findings here. But the major ones include: 1. Strategic litigation, despite being practiced on a transnational level, is surprisingly lacking a scholarly definition. Based upon extensive research of this practice and drawing upon our interactions with practitioners, we noted four key characteristics: (i) an extrinsic legacy component—it seeks outcomes with a long-term impact, going beyond the origins of the claimant’s complaint; (ii) it is a method of advocacy rather than a cause, and therefore adaptable to a range of purposes; (iii) its objectives are similarly multi-faceted and go beyond creating effects within the court system; (iv) it views “litigation” broadly, to include tribunals and international mechanisms of redress. 2. Strategic litigation is connected to other fields of litigation, including 'impact litigation', 'public interest litigation', or 'test case litigation', but also has a distinct meaning to denote more transnational forms of litigation. Unlike these other concepts that have come to be associated to varying degrees with social justice movement, strategic litigation is relatively value neutral and denotes a method of advocacy to effectuate change in society. 3. That said, it is apparent that strategic litigation has come to be associated with particular transnational campaigns, particularly in the attainment of a legal framework to address trafficking in persons and in the attainment of socio-economic rights. 4. Given the transnational component of strategic litigation, it is apparent that advocacy campaigns extend to the advancing of legal arguments before international and regional tribunals, and also bodies vested with quasi-judicial competencies, such subsidiary organs of the UN General Assembly or UN Human Rights Council.
Potential for further development of the research
and the proposed course of action:
The three investigators have, flowing from this project, submitted a book proposal to Edward Elgar to edit a major multi-author work that explores strategic litigation from a comparative perspective. This proposal was very well received by the two reviewers of the book proposal, subject to some minor modifications of the proposal in terms of the range of countries surveyed. This book project will include contributors that we interacted with while completing the current project.
Layman's Summary of
Completion Report:
Strategic litigation is everywhere, but nowhere is it defined or critiqued. The aim of this project was to fill the void through the interaction with those who engage in strategic litigation practice. It noted that strategic litigation is at a nascent stage in its development, its rise coinciding with the transnational rise legal advocacy and the understanding that legal developments in one country can affect reform in another. The project also noted some of the limitations of strategic litigation and how it might actually become a victim of its own success, where political actors seek to mobilise against progressive court judgments. This project has laid the foundation for further study of the phenomenon of strategic litigation and hopefully will prompt greater scholarly conversation across countries as to the value and utility of this practice.
Research Output
Peer-reviewed journal publication(s)
arising directly from this research project :
(* denotes the corresponding author)
Year of
Publication
Author(s) Title and Journal/Book Accessible from Institution Repository
2016 Luke Marsh  'The Strategic Use of Human Rights Treaties in Hong Kong’s Cage-Home Crisis: No Way Out?', (3) (2016) Asian Journal of Law and Society 159-188  No 
2019 Michael Ramsden* and Kris Gledhill  'Defining Strategic Litigation', Civil Justice Quarterly  No 
Kris Gledhill  Criminal Law Reform through Strategic Litigation  No 
Recognized international conference(s)
in which paper(s) related to this research
project was/were delivered :
Month/Year/City Title Conference Name
Bali Transnational Litigation in Student Law Clinics  Asia Pro Bono Forum, Workshop on Thematic Human Rights Topics from Around the Asia Region August 29th 2016, Sanur, Bali 
Washington DC Promoting dignity through strategic litigation  Law and Society Association Annual Meeting 2019 
Adelaide Criminal Law Reform through Strategic Litigation Australasian Criminal Law Teachers Workshop  Adelaide University Law School 
Melbourne A critical analysis of strategic litigation and criminal law  Public Interest Litigation in Australia - A Comparative Perspective 
Cavite 'The Promise of Strategic Litigation in Addressing Human Trafficking'  Criminal Justice Responses to Human Trafficking in Asia and Beyond 
Kenya 'Using Strategic Litigation to Address Human Trafficking'  Gender and Transitional Justice in East Africa 
Other impact
(e.g. award of patents or prizes,
collaboration with other research institutions,
technology transfer, etc.):

  SCREEN ID: SCRRM00542