Kris van der Pas

Kris van der Pas is a postdoctoral researcher at Tilburg University, working on a project on judicial lawmaking in public interest litigation. In this research, part of two wider research projects, she looks into US and Dutch class actions by public interest organizations in the fields of discrimination and privacy and the construction of legitimacy by judges when faced with public interest cases. This research is conducted through case law analysis and interviews with judges and clerks.

Kris’ PhD research at Radboud University Nijmegen concerned strategic litigation by civil society organizations in the field of asylum law in Europe. In that study, she empirically tested legal mobilization theory to understand why and how organizations use litigation strategies through comparative case studies of NGOs in the Netherlands, Italy and Germany. The research combined research disciplines in law and political science.

During the course of her PhD, Kris has presented her research at several conferences and workshops, under the auspices of among others IMISCOE, ECPR, and AHRI. Moreover, she has taught courses and developed lectures on strategic litigation/legal mobilization, international/European human rights, and European migration law. Her research has been published in journals such as the Journal of Common Market Studies, the European Journal of Migration and Law, and the International Journal of Human Rights. Next to that, she has published a range of commentaries, such as blogs, short articles and annotations to case law. Lastly, Kris is part of several networks, such as the Netherlands Network for Human Rights Research (co-coordinator of its Migration & Borders Working Group), several ECPR Standing Groups, the Dutch Association for European Law (board member of youth division), the Refugee Law Initiative, and Kris has close ties with civil society actors. For the latter, she has conducted consultancies and given presentations on strategic litigation.


Research Project

Framework for researching impact of strategic litigation campaigns in the field of European migration law. Strategic litigation in the field of migration law is on the rise in Europe. With political opportunities closing due to the election of populist/right-wing regimes, civil society organizations increasingly turn to the courts to improve the right of migrants. Current research approaches to this phenomenon focus on different questions, such as why and how these organizations go to court. Moreover, there are some studies that focus on the aftermath of strategic litigation: what can it change? Nevertheless, only few studies have attempted to take a holistic perspective and look at a combination of these questions. The present research project aims to do so. Firstly, based on existing US literature and studies on European strategic litigation, an overall framework is developed that looks at the different aspects of the litigation process, i.e. before, during, and after litigation. This framework is accordingly adapted to the European migration context, taking into account the legal framework including European Union law and European/international human rights law. Accordingly, the framework is applied to one specific case, or campaign, looking holistically at a litigation process. This means that it is firstly established why litigation was chosen as a strategy on the topic concerned. Secondly, the litigation process itself is scrutinized, i.e. what decisions were made by the litigants. Thirdly and lastly, the aftermath of the strategic litigation campaign is addressed, meaning any legal, political and/or social change that occurred. The research aims to develop a framework that is useful for future academic research in the field of migration law, but also other areas of law, as well as a completed case study on one strategic litigation campaign. A better understanding of the phenomenon of strategic litigation, the role of civil society actors, and the usefulness of the tool is expected to come out of the project.