Understanding Society

Tilburg University is convinced that it can contribute to solving social issues by developing and transferring knowledge and bringing together people from various disciplines and organizations.


A great deal of the world's population has little or no access to basic legal rights, especially poor people. For many, this means that when they are caught in a juridical conflict, they have to sort it out all by themselves.

For example Kenia, a country with way too little lawyers: 5.000 per 42 million inhabitants. The majority lives in rural areas and the lawyers are mainly settled in the cities. Additionally, 46% of the population lives below the poverty line and cannot afford a lawyer or any other form of juridical aid.
Family problems, property conflicts and issues at work: they devastate lives. This inaccessibility of the juridical system hinders full social integration in society and the socioeconomic growth of a country.

How can Microjustice help?

Microjustice is an approach to law that focuses on bringing justice and stability in human relationships to people who live on less than two dollars a day. Microjustice thus focuses on some of the most pressing legal needs of individuals-identity documents, property protection, and conflict resolution for family disputes and work and business relationships. The approach seeks to empower people to pursue improvement of their own living conditions and to invest in meeting their own basic needs. Improving access to justice, that is what microjustice is about.

Microjustice Project

Tilburg University Alumni have contributed to setting up the Microjustice project M-Sheria and the training of volunteers (see also the website of Hiil and the Facebook-page of this project). It concerns a low-key legal aid service. There is a huge need for this in African countries. ING-jurist and alumnus Peter Smits played a key role. Thanks to his efforts the Microjustice project received the notable amount of 50.000 euro from the ING ‘Goede Doelenfonds’. Additionally, many alumni from Tilburg Law School have contributed to this beautiful project.

The Tilburg Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Civil Law and Conflict Resolution Systems (TISCO) has for some years now carried out research exploring the problems that an inaccessible system of law creates for individuals and firms, and seeks to design practical solutions. Nowadays, the Microjustice project is carried out in a joint venture of Tilburg Law School and Hiil.
  • M- Sheria is one of these solutions. It works through mobile phones, the website msheria.com, volunteers (paralegals) and a network of advising lawyers. The idea is that people can ask a juridical question through a text message to a 5-digit number. One of the lawyers affiliated with M-Sheria answers on the website, which sends a text-message to the questioner. Because both question and answer appear anonymously on the website, other people can profit from this knowledge. In this way, a network of valuable juridical knowhow gradually develops, says Jin Ho Verdonschot, initiator and alumnus of Tilburg Law School. “It is about the answers to practical questions, for example about how to calculate the amount of alimony after a divorce.
  • A second solution is creating a website with best practices of legal solutions. In this way, jurisdiction becomes transparent, public and comprehensible. And, people get access to previously inaccessible information that helps them to solve the most urgent juridical problems. Also, everyone can add information and easily create best practices by adding web pages.
  • A third example of a concrete service is the facilitator toolbox. Paralegals in developing countries that help to spread and apply legal knowledge can provide in needs better when being supported by a facilitator toolbox in which examples of effective solutions and practices can be found.

Donating: a priceless investment

The Microjustice project offers many possibilities because the inaccessibility of legal systems is a worldwide problem. Solutions seem to be applicable in various countries, cultures and legal systems. Every contribution makes a great difference in daily wellbeing, safety and the social position of mainly poor people. Legal protection enables people to safely invest in their life and work environment. A priceless investment.

Tilburg Law School is very grateful to her alumni and thankful for support to the Microjustice project. The huge amount of donations make a difference in many lives in Kiberia, Kenia. Take a look at the video below for an impression.
M-Sheria: Mobiel recht in Kenia