Cornell International Law Journal


Kathryn Hendley


Public opinion, Federal courts


Russians' lack of trust in courts as an institution has been repeatedly documented through public opinion polling. Yet the caseload data show a steady increase in the use of courts by both individuals and firms in Russia. But these data cannot explain why Russians choose to use the courts. The Article makes use of two publicly available datasets grounded in representative surveys of Russian citizens and firms to investigate this puzzle. The existing literature assumes that the lack of legitimacy of courts in Russia forestalls use. While confirming the societal disdain for courts, the analysis reveals that this attitude has little effect on behavior. Instead, a complicated mixture of need and capacity drives the use of the courts. Two publicly available datasets were used: the EBRD-World Bank Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey and the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey, RLMS-HSE.

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