Why do we exist?

Everyone who faces a conflict or crime should have an access to legal support that is effective, safe, understandable, affordable and perhaps most importantly, available when it’s needed.

Justice systems around the world need to be improved. Billions of people risk becoming powerless when faced with land disputes, crime, divorce, consumer problems, unfair dismissal, disagreements with a neighbour or landlord, grievance with a public authority, or a business/contractual conflict. In many instances, people simply cannot afford a lawyer or legal services. As such they may experience the law as a tool for the lucky few to maintain their monopoly on power, or to increase their power at the expense of the vulnerable and the many. And for those who do have the resources to access legal advice in the courts, justice procedures do not always deliver what they promise: procedures may be outdated, formalistic or unduly slow. Lengthy, unwieldy procedures, with documents written in a language from the past, only serve to prolong conflict which is of benefit to no one.

As Albert Einstein once observed, we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. We won’t fix the legal justice system by undertaking the occasional pilot study with alternative methods of dispute resolution. Replicating existing procedures and models is likely to further undermine trust in the justice system, and will probably impede economic development. It will certainly not close the gap between those who have access to justice and those who don't.

Our mission

Our mission is to sustainably improve the justice journeys experienced by users of the justice system when they most need it. That means putting people first. Focusing on procedures. And empowering justice institutions to provide the leadership and stability to support that.

Our values

| Our projects are energising, based on collective learning, looking at problems from many perspectives and based on an exchange of solutions from different cultures.

Non-judgmental | We take a neutral perspective, focusing on what is perceived as more or less fair by the people involved.

Evidence-based | Research and best practices are the backbone of our work.

We need to make the delivery of fair solutions
for people and organisations more effective.

At The Hague Institute for Innovation of law (HiiL) we see the ‘rule of law’ and ‘justice systems’ as means to an end: the infrastructure that is needed for peaceful and inclusive societies that flourish on the basis of sustainable economic development. This view also lies at the heart of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace and justice. Much like roads, railways, bridges, electricity and fibre optic cables provide the infrastructure for connecting people, the rule of law and effective justice systems provide the infrastructure for fairness in economic and interpersonal relationships. The justice sector is meant to deliver procedures for managing conflict. Rules bring fairness, trust, and stability. They allocate responsibilities so life becomes less risky.

For us the core value proposition of a good justice system is the procedure. And the procedure can be bad, mediocre, and good at delivering a fair solution.

In 2017, HiiL has signed the SDG Charter to demontrate its commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. With the other signatories in the Netherlands we aim to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years:

  • End extreme poverty
  • Fight inequality and injustice
  • Fix climate change

How do we work?

Our approach focuses on introducing innovation to the justice system.

We collect data about the needs and satisfaction of the users of the justice system. Our Justice Needs and Satisfaction tool is able to track more than 40 elements of the justice experience. Through clever interfaces, we make the data available to policymakers so they can act on it. Data provides knowledge, creates empowerment, and builds accountability – for both achieving positive outcomes and for not doing so. Meet our Measuring Justice team; learn how we work and the many countries we’ve already surveyed.

Based on the data, we build ownership around specific problems, spark innovation and support coalitions for change as integral aspects of our approach.

Our Innovating Procedures team can help you build the next generation of new and original procedures that help solve the justice-related problems experienced by their citizens. The new procedures we develop with clients combine elements of justice technology, mediation and of best practices from courts across the world. We don’t stop at devising and generating new solutions; we also help to realize, nurture and improve them.

Our Justice Accelerator team runs Justice Innovation Challenges to help identify and select promising justice start-ups that contribute to systemic change. We help justice entrepreneurs validate, improve and scale up their initiatives with the partners most useful to them, and develop sustainable funding models. We connect the best projects and business models to funding opportunities.

Who are we?

HiiL forms a community of determined people who are passionate about social impact. We are dedicated justice change catalysts and movers. We see ourselves as friendly rebels who have the courage, wisdom and creativity to help provide for the justice needs of people around the world. We have a strong action orientation and can be qualified as stubborn optimists. Data and evidence is important in all we do. Relationships building and teamwork allow us to provide effective solutions that are carried by all involved. HiiL is an equal opportunity, international employer; what matters to us is your dedication and ability to organise social impact.

How are we organised?

HiiL is organised as a not for profit foundation based in The Hague, the international city of Peace and Justice.

The Executive Board consists of Sam Muller (Chair) and Maurits Barendrecht (Research). On 26 July 2016 the Executive Board appointed Ellen Tacoma (Director of Operations) as a third member of the management team.  The team can be found here.

Our Supervisory Board provides general supervision and advice.

The Programmatic Steering Board is a group of internationally prominent scholars that support and advise the Executive and Supervisory board on substantive issues.

HiiL is proud to have the support and encouragement of the Committee of Honorary Patrons, in which pre-eminent scholars and practitioners work to support the Institute.