Evaluating courts from a litigant's perspective: A project report

Information systems about dispute resolution processes and forums that can aid litigants, a key stakeholder in the justice delivery system, are absent. We propose the development of a system that allows a litigant to comparatively evaluate the different forums where he can take his dispute for resolution. To develop this system, we first identify the types of information that can support the decision of a potential litigant on whether to take her matter to court and if yes, which court. We find that information on efficiency, effectiveness, fairness, predictability, and access to courts are crucial for a litigant's decision-making process. Subsequently, we locate data sources required to quantify such measures from the viewpoint of periodically publishing such measures in the public domain. For this purpose, the case type was narrowed down to debt disputes. We systematically collect quantifiable information about cases from the select courts' websites, namely, the Bombay High Court (Bombay HC), the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), and the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT). We use data from these courts up to September 2022. We find that a litigant has the lowest chance of getting a first hearing within the first year of filing a case at the Bombay HC (37%) as compared to the NCLT or the DRT. The chance for disposal within the first year is even slimmer. There is a 1/3rd chance of disposal at the NCLT within one year of filing, while it is less than 1/5th at both the Bombay HC and the DRT. However, a case is likely to have the highest number of hearings at the NCLT. A survey questionnaire is designed and deployed to capture features of a case that cannot be quantified. We deploy the survey to capture the relative performance of each of the three courts to a sample of respondents who have litigated frequently in the courts of our interest. The results of the survey indicate that the NCLT is ranked the highest by survey participants. Bombay HC comes second, and the DRT is ranked third.


Evaluating courts from a litigant's perspective: A project report, Pavithra Manivannan, Geetika Palta, Susan Thomas and Bhargavi Zaveri-Shah, December 2023