Canadian Forum on Civil Justice

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In 1976, Abram Chayes explained how a paradigm shift was taking place in civil litigation. Procedural innovations were linked to a series of substantive changes in the American legal order that signaled a move away from a traditional private law model of litigation toward a newer and more expansive public law model of litigation. In charting this shift, Chayes explored a whole new approach to thinking about the legal process undertaken by judges. His overall assessment was very much to the point: “our traditional concept of adjudication and the assumptions on which it is based provide an increasingly unhelpful, indeed misleading framework for assessing either the workability or the legitimacy of the role of the judge and the court within this model.” Chayes’ work has had a massive effect upon the development of civil procedure and the adjudicative process in subsequent decades. His articulation of an expanded conceptualization of the role of the judge preserved what he believed was the “judiciary’s broader legitimacy by responding to, indeed by stirring the deep and durable demand for justice in society.”

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