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About us Faculty of Law Research Centres of Expertise Groningen Centre for Empirical Legal Research

Michel Vols

Professor Michel Vols holds a chair of Public Order Law at the University of Groningen. His main fields of research are housing law and urban safety/public order. He is interested in legal research methodology, and uses, for example, data science techniques to analyse legal big data.

In the course of a project funded by a NWO Veni grant, he coded over 1100 Dutch judgments on evictions and applied statistical methods to, inter alia, determine whether proportionality defences significantly help tenants to win their case in court.

In his research, Vols collaborate with criminologists and econometrists. Together with computational linguists, he used text-mining techniques to automatically collect data from ECtHR case law. Using machine learning methods, we were able to predict a violation of 9 articles of the ECHR, with an accuracy of 75%. This was best demonstrated in a 2019 article in the Artificial Intelligence and Law , which was downloaded over 10.000 times in a year.

Vols studied Law and Legal Research (LLB, LLM hons.) and Political Philosophy (BA) at the University of Groningen (RUG). He received his PhD in 2013. In 2015 the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded him a VENI grant of 250.000 euros to conduct research to problem-solving justice, evictions and housing-related crime and anti-social behaviour. In 2016 Vols won scientific prizes for his work: the Gratama Wetenschapsprijs (25.000 euros) and the Nicolaas Mulerius Stipendium (25.000 euros). Vols is one of the founding members of the Young Academy Groningen, "the club for the University’s most talented, enthusiastic and ambitious young researchers". Besides that, he is a board member of the Dutch Lawyers Association (Nederlandse Juristen Vereniging).

Vols was a visiting scholar at the University of Ghent (Belgium), the University of Bristol (UK), the University of Puerto Rico (USA), Cape Town (South Africa), Bar Ilan University (Israel) and founded the International Research Network on Law and Anti-social behaviour: He was a board member of the International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence.

Vols is one of the chairs of the Housing Law Research Network within the European Network on Housing Research. Besides that, he is (founding) editor of the peer reviewed book series Studies in Housing Law (Eleven Publishing).

Last modified:14 May 2020 1.23 p.m.