Accountability Functions of Courts: A Framework for Inquiry
Many countries across the globe have in the past two decades undertaken substantial judicial and legal reforms to strengthen the democratic character of their governments. Yet, the ability and willingness of courts to restrain elected officials vary greatly. This book describes these experiences, analyzes the reasons for existing variations, and helps gain more secure knowledge about the conditions that favor the ability of courts to exercise an effective accountability function. The book describes the experiences of four Latin American and six African cases, and demonstrates the varying ability and willingness of courts to hold other state branches to account. We approach this task through a systematic comparison that is based on theoretically structured thick descriptions with each case focusing on the areas of law where, prima facie, account ability problems seem to be particularly important. Thus, we seek to retain the richness of each country’s experience, while enabling a systematic comparative analysis and a reassessment of central theories in the field. This chapter provides the theoretical foundation for the descriptions in the following empirical case studies and the final chapter, which synthesizes the lessons drawn from the individual cases.
KeywordsLegal Tradition High Court Judicial Independence Modern Democracy Sociopolitical Context
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