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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Bangladesh Priorities: Village Courts, Hossain and Zaman

Another way to bring benefits to the rural poor is examined in the analysis of spreading village courts across rural areas. Research by Md. Shanawez Hossain and Nabila Zaman, of the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, notes that not only are court cases expensive, limiting justice for the most impoverished and least influential citizens, but the country also has a backlog of approximately 2.7 million rural legal cases, with the average case taking 5 years. 


Strategy Takas of benefits per taka spent
Expand village courts 18

The authors propose to increase the authority and number of local village courts so that people could get faster and much cheaper legal opportunities. If implemented, village court cases would be resolved in approximately 30-90 days , and each villager would save an estimated Tk 100,000 in avoided legal fees. 

Village courts lead to smoother and faster processing of trials, decrease case backlogs, and increase access to justice, while dramatically reducing the cost of justice. With extra costs of Tk 18 million (Tk 1.8 crore) per village court over 30 years, but overall savings of Tk 319 million (Tk 31.9 crore) per court, each taka spent toward this effort brings an estimated 18 takas in return.