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LITIGATION CULTURE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND IN EUROPE

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

PART TWO WITH FOCUS ON THE INTERNATIONAL COMPARISON OF MOTIVATING AND DEMOTIVATING FACTORS TO LITIGATION




Following the assessment of access to the judicial system and the public information load on legal services, further factors such as time and costs are which mainly will motivate or demotivate parties from filing a lawsuits with the courts.

Just as an example, the following comparison chart[1] is based on data collected in year 2010 on the various measures of litigation. Based on the below factors, it is quite apparent that the United States of America bears with the highest capacity, when it comes to judges, lawyers, yet it has the lowest costs for the initiation of a law suit.

On the other end of this spectrum is Japan, where the action filing cost factor is rather high, especially with regard toward the indicators of judges and lawyers available. This means that a costly procedure will most likely take longer as it will in the United States of America.

1. Number of Suits filed per 100,000 people


France (continental law) 2,416

Japan (continental law) 1,768

UK (common law) 3,681

USA (common law) 5,806


2. Number of Judges per 100,000 people


France (continental law) 12.47

Japan (continental law) 2.83

UK (common law) 2.22

USA (common law) 10.81


3. Number of Lawyers per 100,000 people


France (continental law) 72

Japan (continental law) 23

UK (common law) 251

USA (common law) 391


4. Cost of Contract Action (% of case value)


France (continental law) 17.4 %

Japan (continental law) 22.7 %

UK (common law) 23.4 %

USA (common law) 14.4 %

In each country, the legislative power branch is able to pass laws, which will influence the litigation culture of the participants of society. As such, law is very much so a part of culture. The definition of culture is defined as follows.

“Culture is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies.” [2]

Based on the above, a very critical factor is also the litigation culture and tradition a country has grown accustomed to. Therefore, if our family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor, sues a party or their employer for minor legal issues, then we might feel inclined to do so ourselves as well. The legislative framework will either motivate us to pursue lawsuits or reach the opposite and make us refrain from pursuing litigation.

“Never stir up litigation. A worse man scarcely be found than one who does this.”[3]

As an example, in the United States of America, if based on the very present freedom and entitlement to the granted rights approach, mixed with factors such as the procedures being rather quick and the possibility of initiating a lawsuit solely on the basis of contingency fees, that is the payment of the legal fees being contingent upon winning a law suit, with the prospect of being adjudicated a high sum award, then people will feel more inclined to litigation.

In contrast to the United States of America is the Japanese society, which is more adamant about litigation being the last resort. Therefore, in consideration of cultural aspects, Japanese people are more inclined to solving their legal disputes in an amicable manner. Further, Japanese legislative regulations make litigation more burdensome from a time and cost factor perspective as well, as shown in the above summary chart.

In conclusion, the willingness of pursuing a lawsuit is closely intertwined with cultural and legislative factors. Although we currently see a trend in quickening legal procedures on a global spectrum, such as the spreading of electronic litigation filing systems throughout the world and certain rules and regulations being put in place for the timeframe as to which civil litigation matters need to be resolved, thereby putting stricter obligations on the judicial system as well, at the end of the day the goal is to find the reasonable balance between the participants of society being able to practice their lawful rights and the judicial system to give the proper framework thereof.



[1] “Comparative Litigation Rates”, Harvard, John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics and Business, J. Mark Ramseyer & Eric B. Rasmusen (2010), page 5. [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture [3] Quote by Abraham Lincoln


*ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. FOR ANY KIND OF USAGE OF THIS ARTICLE - CONTACT: nora.szabo@noraszabolaw.com

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