Livia Johannesson, PhD

Administrative courts are an understudied area in research on judicial decision-making in practice, despite their important function in democratic systems. Administrative courts have a particular duty to counteract arbitrary or discriminatory application of the law as it settles disputes between the state and individuals, and therefore, how equality before the law is understood and practiced in these judicial institutions is vital for our knowledge about and ability to strengthen democracy.

The aim of this research project is to investigate how equality before the law is practiced by judges adjudicating disputes between individuals and the state. To meet this aim, the project conducts an ethnographic study at one of the largest administrative courts in Sweden, involving interviews with 20-25 judges and observations focused on the interaction between judges, claimants, and other judicial actors participating in the trials. The type of cases investigated are: determinations of asylum claims, compulsory psychiatric care (LPT), compulsory care due to drug abuse (LVM), and compulsory care of children (LVU).