Procedural fairness refers to your perceptions regarding the fairness and transparency of the court process, including how your dispute was resolved. The outcome of your case is, of course, important, but a statewide survey revealed that the number one concern of people who come to court is whether they experience the court process as fair. Your perceptions of procedural fairness are most significantly influenced by four key elements: respect, voice, neutrality, and trust.
- Respect: People react positively when they feel they are treated with politeness, dignity, and respect and that their rights are respected. In addition, helping people understand how things work and what they must do is strongly associated with respect and court user satisfaction.
- Voice: People want the opportunity to tell their side of the story, to explain their situation and views to an authority who listens carefully.
- Neutrality: People are more likely to accept court decisions when those in authority act with fairness and neutrality (i.e., people who come to court like being treated equally, and seeing that legal principles and assistance from court personnel are consistent). People also respond more positively to court decisions when the importance of facts is emphasized and the reasons for a decision have been clearly explained.
- Trust: People observe behavior or look for actions to indicate that they can trust the character and sincerity of those in authority and those in authority are aware of and sincerely concerned with their needs (e.g., they look for conduct that is benevolent and caring).