Why do we do it?

Everyone who faces a conflict or crime should have access to a procedure that is effective, safe, fast, easy to understand and affordable.

Justice systems can offer a lot more value than they now do. Billions of people are still at risk of becoming powerless in matters such as land disputes, crime, divorce, consumer problems, unfair dismissal, disagreements with a neighbour or landlord, grievance with a public authority, or a contractual conflict connected to a business they just set up. They cannot afford a lawyer or legal services. In the worst case they experience the law as a tool for the few in power to hold on to it, or to increase their power at the expense of the vulnerable and the many. What justice procedures deliver does not always impress those lucky enough to have the resources to access legal advice and courts: procedures that are outdated, formalistic and slow. Users of the justice system tend to be drawn into lengthy processes, which may prolong conflict rather than put people and organisations back on track. They receive paper documents written in a language from the past.

We cannot solve this problem by continuing with the status quo, or undertaking an occasional pilot study with alternative methods of dispute resolution. Replicating existing procedures and models is likely to undermine trust in the justice system, will probably impede economic development, and will certainly not close the access to justice gap.

We see ‘rule of law’ and ‘justice systems’ as a 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 Sustainable Development Goal 16. Much like roads, railways, bridges, electricity and fibre optic cables provide the infrastructure for connecting people, rule of law and justice systems provide the infrastructure for fairness in economic and interpersonal relationships. The justice sector delivers procedures for managing conflict. Rules bring fairness, trust, and stability. They allocate responsibilities so life becomes less risky.

Our mission is to sustainably improve the justice journeys experienced by users of the justice system when they actually need it. That means putting people first. And empowering justice institutions to provide the leadership, sustainability and stability that a good justice system needs.

How do we work?

Our approach focuses on empowering innovation in 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 the data. Data gives 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 coalitions for change as integral aspect of our approach.

Our Innovative Procedures team can help you build the next generation of new and originalprocedures 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.

Justice technology can support users and professionals to achieve more effective solutions in divorce proceedings, disputes between landlords and tenants, or procedures to compensate victims of mass atrocities. Internet platforms can streamline processes for. Our Online Justice Journeys team delivers a unique online platform that supports empowering procedures to reach agreements, settlements or judgments.

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

What guides us?

HiiL forms a community of determined people who are passionate about social impact. We believe that everybody should have access to a procedure that is effective, safe, fast, easy to understand and affordable. That’s why justice innovation is needed. This is where we come in. 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 organisation based in The Hague, City of Peace and Justice.

HiiL is run by an Executive Board, Sam Muller and Maurits Barendrecht. 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.