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No 30/2026 -- Time and Justice, Timing Justice (early modern period to contemporary history, Europe and the Americas)


  • Alice Bonzom, Université Lumière Lyon 2, Triangle UMR 5206

  • Simon Castanié, Centre Roland Mousnier UMR 8596

  • Nicolas Picard, Centre d’histoire du xixe siècle UR 3550

  • Benoît Saint-Cast, LARHRA UMR 5190

  • Verónica Vallejo Flores, Mondes Américains UMR 8168


The temporality of justice is a topic that has not been explored much by social and law historians. Paradoxically, legal archives have more often been used to grasp the rhythms of ancient societies and the temporality of social practices [Voth, 2000] than to understand the relationship between justice and time. Yet the temporality of justice is no ordinary social and political time [Garapon, 1997]. Beyond the symbols and rituals that give majesty and authority to judgements, justice as a social activity has its own temporalities regulated by the law and the organisation of judicial work. The temporality of these actions is regulated by law and proceedings, which impose an order, deadlines and variable durations depending on the type of case or the status of the parties [Cerutti, 2020]. The practical dimension of this temporality can be observed in all the operations carried out daily in the courts: opening, investigating, adjourning, reassigning and closing cases. While the law imposes a timeframe on the resolution of disputes, judicial institutions remain permeable to external pressures and attentive to the needs of litigants. Far from being fixed, procedural rules are put into practice and used by the actors (judges, auxiliaries, litigants), who do not have the same interests and the same type of leeway. Judicial time is thus at the heart of a dialogue between institutions, society and the State. While the shortening of court proceedings and judgments has become a leitmotif of judicial reforms, little is known about what constitutes the time of justice.

In the wake of a conference organised in Lyon in October 2023, this Clio@Themis special issue aims to examine, from a historical perspective, the ways in which justice constructs its temporalities and how these relate to other forms of social times. The aim is not only to examine the legal and procedural dimensions of judicial time, but also to grasp its social, economic, political and even sensitive dimensions. In addition to the diversity of jurisdictions (civil, criminal, commercial, military, ecclesiastical, etc.), the chronological (early modern period to contemporary era) and geographical (Europe and the Americas) framework makes it possible to consider the varied spatial, temporal and cultural contexts on both sides of the Atlantic, to put the colonial phenomenon into perspective and to compare countries with common law and civil law traditions.

Proposals for articles may fall into one or more of the following (and non exhaustive) areas. Particular attention will be paid to proposals that emphasise both the social and legal dimensions of their subject, as wells as the actors, the practices and the spatial dimensions involved.

1. Justice and its temporalities, discourses and measurements

This first axis aims to examine the different ways in which historians and contemporaries have sought to evaluate and measure judicial time. How does the institution measure the temporality of its own actions? What are the effects of discourse on social representations, political reforms and institutional practices? Such questions also invite researchers to compare these measures with their own analyses. Reflecting on the timescale of justice requires not only the construction of empirical data but also a methodological reflection on the way in which these temporalities are apprehended. How can we count the time taken for proceedings? What tools can be used to understand the multiplicity of timeframes (those of litigants, of the procedure, of the institution)? What methods should be used to qualify these durations (compared with the average, the median, the parties’ expectations)?

2. Diversity of judicial times and uses of proceedings

Understanding judicial time means getting to the heart of the judicial proceeding mechanisms. While the civil or criminal jurisdiction, the nature of the disputes and the status of the litigants (body, class, gender, race) determine the form of the procedure and, as a result, the time limits associated with it, litigants, legal professionals and court officers nevertheless have some leeway when it comes to modulating time to suit their interests. What role do spoken words, writing, the cost of justice and legal professionals play in the construction of legal timeframes? What place does time occupy in the practices and strategies implemented by different actors? What weight does judicial time have in the reluctance to seek justice and the preference for extra-legal approaches?

3. Deciding, punishing, enforcing judgments

Judicial decisions take time and often include time provisions, whether in commercial, family or criminal matters. Is the speed or slowness of a decision correlated with its quality and effectiveness? Particularly in modern times, the question of the length of sentence has become the main instrument for responding to offences, both in the codes and in the verdicts actually pronounced. To what extent is time at the heart of the penal and/or prison experience? Into what spaces and in what ways is the sentence divided? What temporal arrangements and adjustments affect the execution of judicial decisions?

4. Reforms and crises: justice in ordinary and extra-ordinary time periods

The last axis aims to question the political dimension of judicial temporalities. To what extent does the codification of law and the unification of proceedings reduce the slowness of the judicial system? How does the modulation of the judicial network make it possible to regulate the time taken for proceedings and appeals? How does the justice system adapt its functioning to emergencies or extraordinary situations? In turn, can the inability of justice to adapt to ordinary social temporalities be seen as the symptom of a justice crisis? Or, on the contrary, is the discordance of social and judicial time an inherent contradiction in the exercise of justice?

How to submit

Proposals for articles (in French, English or Spanish) should be sent before1 September 2024 to the following address:

Proposals should be approximately 500 words in length (excluding the bibliography) and should set out in detail the arguments of the proposed article, emphasising the angle of approach, the historiographical contribution, the method and the sources used. Particular attention will be paid to the way in which contributors’ proposals fit into the themes of this special issue and the spirit of the journal. A short bio-bibliography and bibliography should be included in proposals.

Publication schedule

  1. Submission of article proposals: 1st September 2024.

  2. Selection of proposals and coordinators’ feedbacks: 1st November 2024.

  3. Submission of final articles on 1st April 2025 (instructions to authors are available here: https: //

  4. First review of articles by the editorial board: June 2025.

  5. Amended articles submission: 1st December 2025.

  6. Second reviews of articles by the editorial board: 1st January 2026.

  7. Final submission of articles: 15th April 2026.

  8. Publication: June 2026 in Clio@Themis n°30/2026.


  1. B. Bastard, D. Delvaux, C. Mouhanna et F. Schoenaers, Justice ou précipitation : l’accélération du temps dans les tribunaux, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016.

  2. B. Bastard et C. Mouhanna, Une justice dans l’urgence, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 2007.

  3. S. Cerutti, Justice sommaire. Pratiques et idéaux de justice dans une société d’Ancien Régime (Turin, XVIIIe siècle), trad. G. Calafat, Paris, Editions de l’EHESS, 2020.

  4. J. A. Dickinson, Justice et justiciables : la procédure civile à la Prévôté de Québec (1667-1759), Laval (Québec), Presses de l’université Laval, 1982.

  5. « Droit, justices et temporalités », dir. C. Reveillere, L. Prauthois, J. Pélisse, Droit & société, 2, 111, 2022.

  6. Entre justice et justiciables : les auxiliaires de la justice du Moyen Âge au XXe siècle. Actes du colloque, Québec, 15-17 septembre 2004, dir. C. Dolan, Sainte-Foy (Québec), Presses de l’Université de Laval, 2005.

  7. A. Garapon, Bien juger : essai sur le rituel judiciaire, Paris, Odile Jacob, 1997.

  8. Les justices locales et les justiciables: la proximité judiciaire en France du Moyen âge à l’époque moderne, dir. M. Houllemare et D. Roussel Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2015.

  9. C. Lemercier, Un modèle français de justice des pairs. Les tribunaux de commerce, 1790-1880, thèse d’habilitation à diriger des recherches, Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, Paris, 2012.

  10. H. Piant, Une justice ordinaire. Justice civile et criminelle dans la prévôté royale de Vaucouleurs sous l’Ancien Régime, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2006.

  11. A. Provost, Une accélération sans précipitation. Le traitement immédiat des affaires pénales à Berlin, thèse de doctorat, Université Paris-Saclay, Paris, 2022.

  12. C. Vigour, B. Cappellina, V. Gautron et L. Dumoulin, La justice en examen: attentes et expériences citoyennes, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 2022.

  13. H.-J. Voth, Time and Work in England (1750-1830), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000.

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