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In Progress

Everyday Legal Problems and The Cost of Justice in Canada

Lead Researchers:

Ab Currie (CFCJ), Trevor Farrow (Osgoode), Les Jacobs (York U.), Nicole Aylwin (CFCJ), David Northrup (York U.) and Lisa Moore (CFCJ).

Description:

This major study surveys 3263 Canadians in order to better understand the nature and frequency of legal problems in the everyday lives of Canadians. It is the first national legal problems survey in Canada or elsewhere to specifically ask participants about the costs of these problems for their economic and social wellbeing.

Project Updates:

Completed
Over 3000 interviews have been completed.

Completed
Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada: Overview Report

Completed
Les problèmes juridiques de la vie quotidienne et le coût de la justice au Canada : rapport général

Completed
Methodology Report: Design and Conduct of the Cost of Justice Survey

Completed
Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada: Survey

Completed
Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada Fact Sheet (Updated May 2016)

Completed
Problèmes juridiques quotidiens et les coûts de la justice au Canada – Fiche Descriptive (mai 2016)

Completed
Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada Fact Sheets on 17 Problem Types: Consumer, Debt, Employment, Neighbours, Discrimination, Family (Relationship Breakdown), Wills & Incapacity, Medical Treatment, Housing, Personal Injury, Treatment by Police, Disability Assistance, Threat of Legal Action, Social Assistance, Immigration, Family (Other), Criminal Charges

Completed
Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada demographic data reports: Age, Gender, Canadian Region, Education, Born in Canada

Ongoing
In-depth analysis is currently underway by the research team. Expected outputs include presentations, reports, articles, infographics and media coverage.

Read More About This Project:

Recognition:
The Canadian Bar Association report, Envisioning Equal Justice (2014) cites the Cost of Justice research as providing a more sophisticated approach to the collection of costing data in the justice system (p 143).

The Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters has recognized this research as an “important innovation” in the field of access to justice research (Action Committee Colloquium Report, forthcoming, June 2014).

Andrew Pilliar gave the keynote presentation at the AGM of Vancouver’s Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS). Andrew’s talk,”Darkness (and Light?): Access to Justice in British Columbia, 2014” drew on this survey data to illustrate the large number of Canadians who experience legal problems, and the small minority who receive legal assistance to deal with those problems.

The Cost of Civil Justice Attrition in British Columbia’s Courts

Lead Researchers:

M. Jerry McHale (U. Victoria), QC, Focus Consultants

Description:

Many litigants in Canada decide to drop out or abandon their case in the civil court system. If they choose to stick with their case, litigants are often subject to such long delays that their access to justice is affected. This project seeks to ascertain how many litigants drop out of the court system or experience delays, the reasons why they drop out of the system, at what point, and the factors that contribute to this decision.

The research will be conducted in BC, with consideration given to creating a research model that can be used in jurisdictions or in the future for an analysis of family cases at the superior or provincial court levels. The research will address five central questions:

  1. What proportion of cases drop out of the civil/court (non-family) system or are subject to such long delays that the claimant’s access to justice is affected?
  2. What are the reasons that claimants drop out of the court system and what factors contribute to this decision?
  3. Is the case issue ever resolved after attrition from the court system, how, to what degree and in what time frame?
  4. To what degree are claimants satisfied with the outcomes of their case following attrition?
  5. What are the short and longer term impacts associated with case attrition from the court system? The full range of impacts from the claimant’s perspective will be addressed. These include financial, personal, family, social and health impacts, as well as secondary impacts involving related issues or problems that emerge, such as the need to turn to other services to resolve the matters in dispute

Project Updates:

Completed
An application was sent to the Judicial Access Policy Working Committee of the BC Court Services Branch [CSB] for Access to Court Record Information, which will allow researchers access to the necessary case files.

Completed
Final Report : Civil Non-Family Cases Filed in the Supreme Court of BC Research Results and Lessons Learned Suggested citation: Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, “Civil Non-Family Cases Filed in the Supreme Court of BC: Research Results and Lessons Learned”, Focus Consultants (Victoria, BC 2015)

Completed
Fact Sheet: The Data Deficit: The Case for Improving Court Records for Future Access to Justice Research

No Refugee: Hungarian Romani Refugee Claimants in Canada

Lead Researchers:

Sean Rehaag (Osgoode), Jennifer Danch (JD Student, Osgoode), Julianna Beaudoin (PhD Candidate, York)

Student Researchers:

Jennifer Danch, Julianna Beaudoin

Description:

Seeks to understand why, in recent years, most Hungarian Romani refugee claimants were unsuccessful with their claims, despite compelling evidence collected by reputable human rights organizations of persecution against Hungarian Roma. Although many factors affect the experience of marginalized groups seeking refugee protection, based on anecdotal evidence we hypothesize that inadequate counsel provided by lawyers and immigration consultants is part of the story. To test this hypothesis, we will be analyzing data and documents obtained from the Immigration and Refugee Board, as well as conducting interviews with community service providers and lawyers.

Two Research Goals:

  1. Develop a better understanding of access to justice barriers faced by Hungarian Romani refugee claimants.
  2. Challenge racist discourse against Romani refugee claimants in Canada and by policy recommendations that will help to prevent future misconduct by legal professionals working with marginalized groups.

Project Updates:

Completed
Data collection.

Completed
1 Academic Article: No Refuge: Hungarian Romani Refugee Claimants in Canada Suggested citation: Beaudoin, Julianna and Danch, Jennifer and Rehaag, Sean, No Refuge: Hungarian Romani Refugee Claimants in Canada (April 2, 2015). Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Forthcoming; Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12/2015.

Paralegals and Access to Justice: A Case Study of Residential Tenancy Disputes in Ottawa

Lead Researchers:

David Wiseman (U. Ottawa)

Description:

This case study aims to identify the role of paralegals in the Ontario residential tenancy dispute resolution system and to analyze the impact of paralegals on the costs of justice and access to justice, especially for low-income tenants. This study was inspired by a concern, expressed by participants in the “Housing Justice Program”, that paralegals are playing an important role in improving access to justice, but more for landlords than for tenants. This suggests that paralegals can help improve the general cost and accessibility of justice, but those improvements may not be sufficient to create access to justice for low-income tenants.

This study has two parts – one quantitative and the other qualitative.

Quantitative

This part of the study will provide a perspective on the extent to which paralegals are re-configuring the costs of justice for parties to residential tenancy disputes.

  1. Identify the prevalence of legal, paralegal and in-person representation in residential tenancy disputes in Ottawa.
  2. Identify the distribution of paralegal and other representation between landlords and tenants.

Qualitative

This part of the study will provide a further perspective on the relationship between paralegals, the costs of justice and access to justice. Consideration will also be given to a further qualitative study of landlord experience with residential tenancy disputes and paralegals.

  1. Survey low-income tenants about their experiences in attempting to resolve residential tenancy disputes, with an emphasis on identifying how the costs of justice frame and influence their experiences and actions.

Project Updates:

Ongoing
A literature review and initial background research is currently being conducted.

Anticipated
Preliminary data from part one of the study is expected in early 2015. Anticipated deliverables for part one of the project include: 1 peer-reviewed paper, co-authored by a graduate student RA; 1 conference presentation and several community presentations aimed at disseminating knowledge to local tenants associations and poverty initiatives.

Read More About This Project:

Paralegals and Access to Justice: A Case Study of Residential Tenancy Disputes in Ottawa
Wiseman, D. (2013, November 19). Paralegals and Access to Justice: A Case Study of Residential Tenancy Disputes in Ottawa.

Further Research Update: Paralegals, the Cost of Justice and Access to Justice: A Case Study of Residential Tenancy Disputes in Ottawa
Wiseman, D. (2016, June 29). Further Research Update: Paralegals, the Cost of Justice and Access to Justice: A Case Study of Residential Tenancy Disputes in Ottawa.

Self Represented Litigants & Court Administrators Project

Lead Researchers:

Trevor Farrow (Osgoode), Noel Semple (U. Toronto), Julie McFarlane (U. Windsor)

Description:

This project seeks to explore the costs related to litigants representing themselves in court. Designed to build on a recent study out of the University of Windsor, the project will use both qualitative and quantitative methods. The study also seeks to connect the needs and costs of self represented litigants with relevant costs associated with court services by building on another recent study done, with research from the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, for the Association of Canadian Court Administrators.

Project Updates:

Ongoing
Project is in the early stages of discussion. Data collection proposed to begin in early 2015.

Anticipated
Expected outputs include 1 Research Report; 1 Policy Paper; 1-2 Academic Articles; 2-3 Media Reports; 2-3 Conference Presentations.

An Evaluation of the Cost of Family Law Disputes: Measuring the Cost Implication of Various Dispute Resolution Methods

Lead Researchers:

John-Paul E. Boyd, Joanne J. Paetsch, Lorne D. Bertrand (Canadian Research Institute for Law and Family), Trevor Farrow (Osgoode), Lisa Moore (CFCJ)

Description:

This project undertaken with the Canadian Research Institute for Law and Family in Alberta, includes findings from a survey of Canadian family law lawyers and their views of the use of collaborative settlement processes, mediation, arbitration and litigation to resolve different family law disputes. The study also includes a modified social return on investment (SROI) analysis approach that estimates the social impact and value of each process. This study is the first of its kind in Canada.

The key purposes of this project are:

  1. Aggregate cost data on the four dispute resolution methods evaluated;
  2. Gain insight on experiences with, and perceptions of processes to resolve different family problems;
  3. Apply a modified social return on investment (SROI) analysis that offers a common set of parameters around which to compare the financial impacts and social value of each method of dispute resolution relative to the seriousness of the family law problem; and
  4. Identify information that could prove useful for shaping programs, informing policies or services, and driving thinking about opportunities for reducing costs and improving overall experiences with dispute resolution in the family law context.

Project Updates:

Completed
Data collection is underway.

Completed
Final Report: An Evaluation of the Cost of Family Law Disputes: Measuring the Cost Implication of Various Dispute Resolution Methods is available at <http://www.cfcj-fcjc.org/sites/default/files//docs/Cost-Implication-of-Family-Law-Disputes.pdf> and at <http://www.crilf.ca/Documents/Cost_of_Dispute_Resolution_-_Mar_2018.pdf>

Completed
See also: Lawyer’s Daily article, “Canadian Research Institute Studying Cost of Resolving Family Law Disputes”: https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/4411/canadian-research-institute-studying-cost-of-resolving-family-law-disputes.

Completed
See also: Slaw column: “The Cost of Family Law Disputes” by Jean-Paul Bevilacqua: http://www.slaw.ca/2018/03/23/the-cost-of-family-law-disputes/. Slaw column: “Reappraising the Use of Arbitration in Family Law” Disputes by John-Paul Boyd: http://www.slaw.ca/2018/03/29/reappraising-the-use-of-arbitration-in-family-law-disputes/. The Lawyer’s Daily article: “Family lawyers prefer mediation, collaborative processes: study” by Amanda Jerome: https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/family/articles/6134/family-lawyers-prefer-mediation-collaborative-processes-study. Canadian Lawyer: “Family lawyers prefer alternative methods but many cases will always require a courtroom” by Aidan Macnab: http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/legalfeeds/author/aidan-macnab/family-lawyers-prefer-alternative-methods-but-many-cases-will-always-require-a-courtroom-15431/.

Completed
Resolving Family Law Disputes Infographic: http://www.cfcj-fcjc.org/infographics/Cost-Of-Family-Law-Disputes.

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Completed

What is Access to Justice?

Lead Researchers:

Trevor Farrow (Osgoode), Sabreena Delhon (CFCJ), Nicole Aylwin (CFCJ)

Student Researchers:

Bart Danko, Christian Ferraro, Katrina Lovrick

Description:

Most access to justice research uses a definition that reflects how providers of justice services (e.g. lawyers, judges, court staff, etc.) understand justice and access to justice, which is largely centred on their familiarity formal justice system. This study, based on 200 semi-structured interviews with Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area, explores how ordinary Canadians understand access to justice.

This study took place over an 8-month period between November 2012 and May 2013. Subjects were selected randomly by a team of 2-3 student researchers and were invited to respond to 8-10 open-ended questions about justice and access to it. The questions include the following:

  • How do you define justice?
  • What does access to justice mean?
  • Should citizens have a right to justice?
  • Do you think justice is of fundamental importance to Canadians?
  • Should the government do more or less to promote justice for Canadians?
  • What are some examples of restrictions on access to justice?
  • Have you ever faced access to justice barriers?
  • Do you think that everyone is equally vulnerable to access to justice barriers?

Project Updates:

Completed
This initiative produced a series of videos, a peer reviewed paper and an infographic. Interview data was also featured in several presentations.

Read More About This Project:

Videos


Journal Article:
What is Access to Justice?
Farrow, T.C.W. (2014). What is Access to Justice? Osgoode Hall Law Journal, 51:3.

Infographic
What is Access to Justice?

Issues of Cost & Access: Beyond Silos, Towards Strategies

Lead Researchers:

Trevor Farrow (Osgoode), Sabreena Delhon (CFCJ), Les Jacobs (York U.)

Student Researchers:

Tina Motavalli, Raajkumar C. Kannan, Sana Affara, Shamsuddin Ahmed

Description:

Canada’s health care, social investment and early childhood educations sectors have each been improved by rethinking dominant paradigms around costs and access. This public roundtable series brought together prominent researchers in each of these three fields to draw lessons for the civil justice system. The roundtables discussed questions such as: Do cost and access provide a common currency for comparative analysis across systems? What lessons can inform research aimed at improving access to the civil justice system?

Project Updates:

Completed
This initiative yielded three dynamic, multi-disciplinary lectures and background reports co-authored with graduate students.

Read More About This Project:

Issues of Cost & Access: In Canada’s Early Childhood Education System
Delhon, S., Affara, S. et al. (2012, March). Issues of Cost & Access: In Canada’s Early Childhood Education System. Toronto: The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (Report),

Issues of Cost & Access: In Canada’s Health Care System
Delhon, S., Affara, S. et al. (2012, September). Issues of Cost & Access: In Canada’s Health Care System. Toronto: The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (Report).

Issues of Cost & Access: In Canadian’s Social Investment
Delhon, S., Affara, S. et al. (2012, November). Issues of Cost & Access: In Canadian’s Social Investment (Report).

From Values to Policy Legislation: Understanding Legal and Policy Needs In Aboriginal Self-Governing Contexts

Lead Researchers:

Nicole Aylwin (CFCJ), Heidi Besuijen (U. Alberta, JD student)

Student Researchers:

Heidi Besuijen

Description:

Designed to use community-based collaborative research methodologies, this project partners with First Nations communities in the Yukon to consider how attention to the cultural values of distinct communities are central to delivering access to justice.

Project Updates:

Anticipated
1-2 Academic Articles, 2 Workshops (1 Complete)

Read More About This Project:

Thinking Through Access to Justice in Aboriginal Communities
Aylwin, N. (2013, December 3). Thinking Through Access to Justice in Aboriginal Communities (blog).

Delivering Access to Justice in Aboriginal Communities
Aylwin, N. (2013, July 26). Delivering Access to Justice in Aboriginal Communities (blog).