Double normalization: When procedural law is made digital



e-justice, law and technology, fair trial, judicial reform, e-justicia, derecho y tecnología, juicio justo, reforma judicial


The comparison of three e-justice platforms (EJP) leads to the identification of a common dynamic – called double normalization – which makes EJP development an institutional and constitutional issue, not just a functional one. The case study analysis of Trial on Line in Italy, e-Curia (Court of Justice of the European Union) and Kwaliteit en Innovatie rechtspraak in the Netherlands shows how EJPs, establishing the working environment for judges, lawyers, and clerks, create more powerful constraints than those provided by the law. The normalization carried out by legal standards to make judicial procedures predictable and homogeneous and grant equal treatment is supplemented by the digital working environment. Hence technology provides an additional layer of normalization, steering the behaviour of judges in predetermined directions and inhibiting other action pathways. The process challenges the right of the judge to interpret procedural law and require appropriate judicial governance mechanisms to safeguard fair trial. 

La comparación de tres plataformas de justicia electrónica (PJE) conduce a la identificación de una dinámica común –llamada doble normalización– que hace del desarrollo de las PJE una cuestión institucional y constitucional, no sólo funcional. El análisis de los estudios de caso de Trial on Line, en Italia, e-Curia (Tribunal de Justicia de la Unión Europea), y Kwaliteit en Innovatie rechtspraak, en los Países Bajos, muestra cómo las PJE, al establecer el entorno de trabajo de los jueces, abogados y secretarios, crean limitaciones más poderosas que las previstas por la ley. La normalización llevada a cabo por las normas jurídicas para hacer predecibles y homogéneos los procedimientos judiciales y conceder un trato igualitario se complementa con el entorno de trabajo digital. Por lo tanto, la tecnología proporciona una capa adicional de normalización, dirigiendo el comportamiento de los jueces en direcciones predeterminadas e inhibiendo otras vías de actuación. El proceso pone en tela de juicio el derecho del juez a interpretar el derecho procesal y exige mecanismos adecuados de gobernanza judicial para salvaguardar un juicio justo.

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Author Biographies

Francesco Contini, National Research Council of Italy

Francesco Contini is a senior researcher at the National Research Council of Italy, Institute on Legal Informatics and Judicial Systems, where he coordinates the research area “Quality and assessment of justice systems”. He studies the institutional transformations of European judiciaries with focuses e-justice, case management and performance evaluation. He is the principal investigator of the research project Handle with care: assessing and designing methods for the evaluation and development of the quality of justice, co-financed by the European Commission. 

Francesco has written various articles and books on various judicial reform topics, among which “Judicial Evaluation” with Richard Mohr (VDM 2008), ‘ICT and innovation in the public sector’ (Palgrave 2009) and “The Circulation of Agency in e-Justice” (Springer 2014) both edited with Giovan Francesco Lanzara. He has collaborated with several international organisations promoting judicial reform in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Selected publications are available at

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Dory Reiling, Retired senior judge at the Amsterdam District Court

Hon. A.D. (Dory) Reiling Ph.D. Mag.Iur. (1950) was a senior judge of the Amsterdam District Court until she retired in 2018. Formerly a senior judicial reform specialist at the World Bank and IT program manager for the Netherlands judiciary, she was actively involved in designing and building digital procedures for the civil courts in the Netherlands.
She regularly lectures on court IT and AI and works on IT with judiciaries around the world. She acted as an expert for CCJE, CEPEJ, the Netherlands Parliament, UNODC, Amnesty, and EU High Level expert group on AI. She is on the editorial boards of the International Journal for Court Administration and of Computerrecht.
 Her publications are on, her tweets on and her Technology for Justice blog on  

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How to Cite

Contini, F. and Reiling, D. (2022) “Double normalization: When procedural law is made digital”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 12(3), pp. 654–688. Available at: (Accessed: 15 April 2024).