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New Research Published on Public Knowledge of Rights

Over many decades, processes of juridification have brought about huge growth in legal rights, responsibilities and protections. Yet, citizens appear to poorly understand the ‘law thick’ world in which they live. This impacts on the capability of citizens to ‘name, blame and claim’ in the legal domain; at a time of retreat from public funding of civil legal services. New research from Dr Catrina Denvir of the Legal Innovation Centre is due to published in Volume 80, Number 5 of the Modern Law Review.

The research, written in conjunction with Pascoe Pleasence and Nigel Balmer of UCL,  looks at public knowledge of rights in key areas relating to consumer, housing and employment law. Drawing on data from the 2010-2012 English and Welsh Civil and Social Justice Survey, the paper uses responses to a series of hypothetical scenarios to explore public knowledge of rights and characteristics associated with knowledge.

Findings highlight a substantial deficit in the public’s understanding of legal rights and responsibilities – even among those for whom particular rights and responsibilities have specific bearing.

We contextualise our finding with reference to what they mean for public legal education and the efficiency, efficacy and legitimacy of the law.