Undercutting Justice

Agmon, Shai. “Undercutting Justice–Why Legal Representation Should Not Be Allocated by the Market.” Politics, Philosophy & Economics 20, no.1 (2021).

The adversarial legal system is traditionally praised for its normative appeal: it protects individual rights; ensures an equal, impartial, and consistent application of the law; and, most importantly, its competitive structure facilitates the discovery of truth – both in terms of the facts, and in terms of the correct interpretation of the law. At the same time, legal representation is allocated as a commodity, bought and sold in the market: the more one pays, the better legal representation one gets. In this article, I argue that the integration of a market in legal representation with the adversarial system undercuts the very normative justifications on which the system is based. Furthermore, I argue that there are two implicit conditions, which are currently unmet, but are required for the standard justifications to hold: that there is (equal opportunity for) equality of legal representation between parties, and that each party has (equal opportunity for) a sufficient level of legal representation. I, therefore, outline an ideal proposal for reform that would satisfy these conditions.

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