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Center for Legal Data Science

Research Projects

Our current and completed research projects are …  


Access to International Justice: An Empirical Analysis of the Case Filtering Mechanism Employed by the European Court of Human Rights

Foundation for Research in Science and the Humanities at the University of Zurich

Access to international justice, i.e. to international human rights mechanisms (IHRM) protecting human rights of individuals, is becoming ever more important. This project looks at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as the most important IHRM in Europe. It is a characteristic feature of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) that individuals may file a complaint with the ECtHR when they deem that a contracting state violated their Convention rights. There is considerable pressure on IHRM to process individual complaints within a reasonable time while maintaining high standards of decision-making. From the perspective of the aggrieved individual, for whom filing a complaint with an IHRM is often a matter of last resort, a pressing problem is access. At the ECtHR, the vast majority of individual applications (more than 95%) are rejected already at the admissibility stage and, in effect, individuals are denied access to international justice. This project aims at a quantitative analysis of the problem of access to the ECtHR. It is innovative because empirical studies on the problem of access to the ECtHR are currently lacking.The main research question pursued by the project is: What are the factors associated with individual access to the ECHR mechanism?

Just Satisfaction under Art. 41 ECHR (UZH / ZHAW / MPIL)

Just Satisfaction under Art. 41 ECHR: a Quantitative Analysis (UZH / Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law)

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law


Individuals have the right to lodge a complaint with the European Court of Human Justice (ECtHR). In cases where the ECtHR finds a violation, it may award "just satisfaction" under Article 41 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). However, there is no specific "formula" for the amount of “just satisfaction”, the Court decides on its own discretion based on past cases.
This project is an empirical analysis. It aims at examining the relationship between the amount of "just satisfaction" an applicant is awarded and case related as well as individual characteristics.

This project was approved by the BRIDGE Discovery framework of the SNSF and Innosuisse. It started in 2023 and will be completed in 2026.

SNFS grant overview



SNSF P3 Project Database

SNSF Professorship, 01.06.2021 – 31.05.2023, CHF 787,896

In the knowledge and network society, insights from data have become an essential resource. In large part, legal scholarship is yet to discover the potential of the computational analysis of legal data. The project aims to make a pivotal contribution in the endeavor to further align legal scholarship with digitalization. The central research question addressed by the new project is if and how LDA advances the process of legal knowledge production (with special emphasis on Swiss law). The specific aims of the project are:

  • to identify the practical challenges faced by large-scale empirical legal research (ELR) projects,
  • to outline how LDA transforms ELR and advances the process of production of new legal knowledge,
  • to assess the implications of data-driven legal knowledge production from a theoretical and legal methodological perspective,
  • to identify areas of Swiss law that could benefit from LDA with a view to designing further interdisciplinary projects.

Access to Social Security Justice (UZH / ZHAW)

Zugang zur Sozialversicherungsgerichtsbarkeit (Access to Social Security Justice)

Universität Zürich / Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften


The project addresses issues of inclusion of people with disabilities in the context of access to social security jurisdiction. Specifically, using the example of the Social Insurance Court of the Canton of Zurich, we explore the questions of

  • who appeals to the court in the case of rejected IV benefits and
  • what the probability of winning depends on.

For example, we analyze how the age, medical diagnosis, and legal representation of the complainants are related to the court decision. We examine access to social security court using a unique dataset that we create ourselves. For this purpose, the disability insurance court cases are quantified for statistical analysis partly automatically, partly by manual coding.

An Empirical Approach to Human Rights Interpretation – Hard Interpretive Choices in Judicial Decision Making Processes under the European Convention on Human Rights

SNSF P3 Project Database

SNSF Professorship, 01.06.2017 – 31.05.2021, CHF 1,597,192

The outcome of human rights cases is unpredictable. There are two main reasons for unpredictable outcomes of human rights cases: First, decision making processes at human rights courts (as in ordinary courts) are to some extent opaque, and, second, human rights judges often face (multiple) ‘hard interpretive choices’ when deciding human rights cases. By employing a mixed method approach, combining legal analysis with statistical methods, this study aims to shed light on both factors in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Trademark Opposition Proceedings in Switzerland: Empirical Insights (UZH)

University of Zurich

This project is an empirical analysis of legal reasoning involved in trademark opposition proceedings in Switzerland (Widerspruchsverfahren). We examine a novel dataset on trademark opposition proceedings brought before the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI).

In these proceedings, the likelihood of confusion between two (or more) trademarks is assessed drawing on several legal factors (for example, trademark similarity, similarity of goods and services and the level of attention). Our dataset contains information on 2453 cases relating to proceedings between June 2002 and August 2018. In particular, we examine which legal factors drive the outcome of these decisions and we assess their relative importance.