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The social courts system of the German Democratic Republic

Baister, Stephen; (1992) The social courts system of the German Democratic Republic. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The social courts of the German Democratic Republic consisted of disputes commissions (based at the workplace) and arbitration commissions (based in the community and in certain cooperatives). They had their origins partly in Soviet models of lay justice and partly in the old German institution of the Schiedsmann (arbitrator). They had advisory and conciliatory functions, but also heard a wide range of employment and disciplinary matters, minor civil disputes and petty crime. Hearings took place in public before elected lay judges ("members"), usually outside working hours. Proceedings were relatively informal and were conducted on inquisitorial rather than adversarial principles and without representation by lawyers. Orders could be made imposing "educational measures" which aimed to educate deviant individuals to socialist standards of behaviour. In addition, recommendations could be made for the elimination of the causes of conflict in society. Decisions (which could be enforced) were subject to appeal to the state courts at the instance of the parties or the procuracy. The social courts were an important manifestation of the communist organizational principle of "democratic centralism" whereby centrally planned aims were realized locally through elected agencies. Although described as "social" they were an integral part of the slate system of administration of justice. They aimed to build socialism by educating people to socialist principles, by attacking the root causes of lawlessness in society and by involving the people in dispensing justice as well as safeguarding individual rights. They disciplined rather than punished. They were abolished after unification with the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 but were replaced by arbitration committees, a limited, if unsuccessful, continuation of the tradition that occurred only because of the lack of judges and legally qualified personnel in the East.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The social courts system of the German Democratic Republic
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Social courts
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10116275
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