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Access to Justice Blog

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

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

Ab Currie, PhD
Jul 16, 2013

The semi-annual meeting of the International Legal Aid Group (ILAG) is the pre-eminent international legal aid conference in the world. Delegates from about 25 countries, including Asian, African and Latin American nations, attend this conference. The focus of the ILAG is on access to justice in European nations, as well as other common law countries. The conference series began twenty years ago in The Hague as a small group of legal aid researchers and policy-makers gathered together to discuss policy and program developments in the Netherlands occurring at that time. Since then, the ILAG conference has become a valuable event for researchers and policy-makers to discuss on-going research and policy initiatives in view of meeting the challenges in administration of legal aid, as well as access to justice barriers in general.

This year, the conference theme, Legal Aid in Difficult Times, offered the opportunity for speakers from around the world to share their reserach on issues ranging from the role of new technologies in securing access to justice, to how jurisdictions from around the world are coping with budgetary restraints that have challenged their... Read More

Ab Currie, PhD
May 13, 2013

Historically, legal aid was the first response to the access to justice problem. At present it occupies by far the largest terrain in the access to justice landscape in Canada. Access to justice in Canada is poised on the edge of significant changes encouraged by the work of the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, led by Chief Justice Mclachlin and Justice Cromwell of the Supreme Court. As these changes play out over the coming years the legal aid system is in a potentially powerful position to play a major role because of its large presence in access to justice. Thus the vitality of the legal aid system is of major importance. This note presents a brief statistical picture of the current state of civil legal aid in Canada.[1]

Legal aid in Canada is provided by 13 legal aid organizations, one in each province and territory. Each legal aid “plan” as they are called in Canada is a statutory body created by the province or territory, but operating at arm length to government governed by an independent board of directors.... Read More