Empirics and responsibility, accountability and liability: UCALL’s Empire

UCALL’s Empire is our collaborative research project, where we centralize the empirical and interdisciplinary study of accountability and liability law. The goal is to conduct empirical-legal research and develop appropriate methodologies, through case studies that transcend the respective fields of accountability and liability law.

This project has thus far resulted in two published volumes. In Assumpties Annoteren (Boom, 2019) we identify factual assumptions that courts implicitly or explicitly make, and examine their validity. Think of the assumption that the threat of product liability leads to defensive innovation. We evaluated the evidence that was available on the specific assumption and analyzed whether such assumptions are supported by empirical evidence.

The follow-up publication Opvattingen Onderzoeken (Boom, 2022) examined the use of societal views by courts. Courts have used such views to determine the societal acceptance of sexual acts between minors, whether companies can be excused from contractual non-compliance due to foreign sanctions, and whether hospitals can be liable for using faulty medical devices. We tested several of these views across different legal fields by conducting qualitative research and issuing questionnaires, and analyzed whether what courts think is acceptable in society indeed matches the views of the respondents.