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Access to Justice Blog

Analysis and opinions from the leading voices in access to justice research.

Melina Buckley
Sep 19, 2013

The post was originally published on the Oxford Human Rights Hub blog.

The year is 2030 and all people living in Canada have equal access to justice regardless of means, capacity or social situation.  The justice system is designed around people’s needs taking into consideration differences in the legal needs of different individuals and groups and providing timely and personalized assistance, responding holistically to the legal and non-legal dimensions of problems and ensuring meaningful and effective assistance to navigate a range of paths to justice to achieve lasting and just outcomes.  People are empowered to manage their own legal matters with an emphasis on prevention where feasible and to participate in overseeing the justice system as a result they feel a strong connection to it and as a result there is a strong sense of public ownership.  Practices are evidence-based and the justice system is a nurturing environment for innovation and consists of learning organizations committed to continual improvement.

This ‘ambitious but possible’ vision of equal justice is at the heart of the Canadian Bar... Read More

Ab Currie, PhD
Sep 10, 2013

Innovating Justice by Sam Muller and the team at The Hague Institute for the Internationalization of Law (HiiL) is a very timely and valuable source of ideas about developing and implementing innovations in the justice field. Based on their pioneering work at the Justice Innovation Lab in The Hague, the authors provide food for thought for anyone contemplating entering the promising but often challenging waters of innovation. Let me share a few of their insights:

  • Innovation is not a simple, linear process. Innovation is an evidence-based and risk-taking activity. Innovators and, especially, the funders of innovations have to be prepared to learn from mistakes and use them as stepping-stones. 
  • Innovation is rarely the product of a brilliant flash of inspiration. It involves sustained hard work to develop ideas, engage stakeholders and implement and test innovations. Inspiration, however, is the essential ingredient that allows you to sustain the work it takes to innovate... Read More
Issue of the Month
Sana Affara
Aug 21, 2013

On July 22, 2013, the Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) released the final report for their Family Law Project: “Increasing Access to Family Justice through Comprehensive Entry Points and Inclusivity”. The report, which the result of over three years of consultation and study, makes a number of innovative recommendations and adds a welcome voice to discussions on family law reform.

The Problem with the Family Justice System

Obtaining a separation, divorce or dealing with child custody is a painful experience. It is emotionally, physically and financially draining. It is also a difficult period of adjustment, where individuals are forced to deal with the absence of their partner and the deterioration of their marriage all while adapting to new living arrangements. One of biggest challenges many people face during this period is navigating through the justice system. There have been a number of concerns raised about the inaccessibility of the family justice system due to its adversarial nature, inordinate delays and the unaffordability of legal services.... Read More

Nicole Aylwin
Aug 20, 2013

In August I get more of “Out of the Office” automatic email replies than any other month. I suspect (and am very envious of the fact) that many people have fled their offices, trading them in for lakes, canoes, cottages and long summer days on the beach. So in honour of this exodus, and as a reminder that not everyone has easy access to the people and services that administer justice, we’ve complied on our blog some of the most recent papers on A2J and technology for you to read on the dock. We’ve also included the links to some new (and often controversial) A2J initiatives that that are attempting to make access to justice easier, more efficient, and more widely available. Happy summer!  

Read about it: A2J & Technology Papers

Issue of the Month
Robin Nobleman
Jul 17, 2013

Access to justice as a social determinant of health

Social Determinants of Health

It is well understood that those at the bottom of the social gradient have shorter life expectancies and experience more health problems at a higher rate than those who are well-off.[1] The societal factors that cause this disparity are referred to by social scientists as “social determinants of health”. According to the World Health Organisation, social determinants of health are “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age” with these circumstances being shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources. When people experience things like poor housing, insecure employment, inadequate education and other disadvantages, the negative effects on health accumulate throughout life.[2] Many of these problems may actually be unmet legal needs that can be dealt with in a poverty law practice. In other words, legal services have the power... Read More