UVic Access to Justice Centre for Excellence Colloquium’s Final Report

On May 13, 2016 the University of Victoria Access to Justice Centre for Excellence (UVic ACE) hosted a research colloquium attended by 23 participants from a spectrum of British Columbia justice organizations and agencies. The objective of the colloquium was to bring together various justice stakeholders to discuss the possibility of developing a BC justice framework. Discussion at the colloquium was centred around 3 topics:

A. The nature, status and consequences of the research problem: In defining the problem, colloquium participants agreed that there must be a more coordinated effort in gathering empirical data.

B. Laying the groundwork for the creation of the framework: The consensus among colloquium participants was that over-arching strategic justice system objectives must be set out to achieve the framework.

C. Concrete steps for the design and implementation of the framework: The scope of the research framework was discussed at length, with colloquium participants ultimately agreeing that the project should not involve other provinces due to limited resources and problems of cross-provincial coordination.

As part of the day’s discussion, Uvic ACE proposed a number of ways that it could help advance the justice research framework project after the colloquium. Subject to securing the necessary funding, UVic ACE agreed to contribute in the following 5 ways:

  1. Establishing a provincial, multi-sector Research Framework Working Group (“RFWG”) to pursue the design and implementation of a justice research framework
  2. Working with RFWG in the undertaking of research, providing outreach and information, and convening further colloquia
  3. Preparing a report recommending objectives and guiding principles to inform BC justice research and the work of the RFWG
  4. Preparing a literature review on justice research frameworks, a paper analyzing options for data scan, and an inventory of existing Canadian A2J research
  5. Encouraging interest among UVic faculty and students in support of access-oriented justice research projects

    To view the full Colloquium Report containing a more fulsome discussion of the research framework and UVic’s proposals for contributing to the ongoing project click here.

Law, Technology and Access to Justice

To date, there has been much discussion on the impact of technology on traditional legal practice in terms of virtual law firms, online dispute resolution (ODR), and other innovative legal software. At the same time, however, there has been surprisingly little discussion of the impact of technology on A2J for those with low income.

With the intention of filling an important void, The Legal Education Foundation in London has funded a new website: http://law-tech-a2j.org to serve as a resource on developments at the intersection of “law, technology, and access to justice.” The initiative follows from two previous annual reports for 2014 and 2015 (available here), which talk about developments in the field. At present, one of the website’s main features is a blog by researcher, journalist, and legal services consultant Roger Smith (OBE). Other external contributions include pieces from ADR and ODR experts, a piece from a UK developer of family law software, and an account from Hackney Community Law Centre.

The website is looking to post around 10 blogs per month on topics that pertain to the following themes:

  1.  General overviews
  2. The impact of and approaches to overcoming the digital divide
  3. Legal developments of relevance to those who are poor (ex: use of guided pathways, automated documented assembly, ODR)
  4. Innovative ways in which digital provision may be integrated with and supplement conventional services
  5. The potential use of technology to supplement legal services in low income countries

The website is currently inviting blog contributions (around 800 words in length, 1500 being the maximum) for those interested in writing on any of the above themes. Furthermore, the website is also looking for volunteers to be part of a reference group. If you would like to write a contribution for the site, participate in the reference group, or provide any additional feedback, please email Roger at rsmith@rogersmith.info.