Litigiousness in Australia: Lessons from Comparative Law

Leon Wolff


How litigious are Australians? Although quantitative studies have comprehensively debunked the fear of an Australian civil justice system in crisis, the literature has yet to address the qualitative public policy question of whether Australians are under- or over-using the legal system to resolve their disputes. On one view, expressed by the insurance industry, the mass media and prominent members of the judiciary, Australia is moving towards an American-style hyper-litigiousness. By contrast, Australian popular culture paints the typical Australian as culturally averse to formal rights assertion. This article explores the comparative law literature on litigiousness in two jurisdictions that have attracted significant scholarly attention — the United States and Japan. More specifically, it seeks to draw lessons from this literature for both understanding litigiousness in modern Australia and framing future research projects on the issue.

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