Legal Services Corporation Publishes 2022 Justice Gap Report

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has published new insights on unmet legal needs among low-income earners in the U.S. “The Justice Gap: The Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans”, published in April 2022 is the fourth comprehensive report by the LSC examining the civil legal needs and access to justice challenges of low-income earners in the U.S. The report includes data from a survey of 5,000 households, which reveals that 92% of low-income earners in the U.S. did not receive any or adequate legal help to address their civil legal problems. This compares with 86% of low-income earners who did not receive any or enough help for civil legal problems in the 2017 Justice Gap report. The report also includes insights related to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the legal needs and experiences of Americans.

The Justice Gap: The Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans is published on the LSC website here: https://justicegap.lsc.gov/the-report/.

Canadian Judicial Council and Department of Justice Sign Key Memoranda of Understanding

The Department of Justice of Canada has announced two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between the Department of Justice and the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC). The MOUs are aimed at “strengthening judicial independence” and “increasing public confidence in the justice system”. The MOU on judicial independence acknowledges the CJC’s autonomy in fulfilling its mandate to serve the public. The MOU on judicial education confirms how the federal government and the CJC engage on matters of judicial education while respecting constitutional boundaries. The MOUs were signed by the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, the Chief Justice of Canada and the Honourable David Lametti, the Minister of Justice.

The April 28, 2022 press release on the two Memoranda of Understanding, as well as links to additional information, is available in English here: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-justice/news/2022/04/strengthening-judicial-independence-and-increasing-public-confidence-in-the-justice-system-chief-justice-of-canada-and-minister-of-justice-sign-two.html.

The press release is available in French here: https://www.canada.ca/fr/ministere-justice/nouvelles/2022/04/renforcer-lindependance-judiciaire-et-accroitre-la-confiance-du-public-envers-le-systeme-de-justice-le-juge-en-chef-du-canada-et-le-ministre-de-la-.html.

Justice Canada Publishes Report on Serious Legal Problems among Urban African Canadians in Quebec

Justice Canada has published a qualitative report that examines urban African Canadians’ experiences with serious legal problems in Quebec. In 2020, a research team conducted interviews in French and English to learn about serious legal problems that research participants experienced in Quebec. The main themes related to legal problems experiences that emerged from these interviews include

  • racial discrimination;
  • immigration and refugee status;
  • language discrimination;
  • racial profiling;
  • police and prison guard violence;
  • health; 
  • disability;
  • housing; 
  • employment; 
  • criminal violence; and, 
  • poor or inadequate legal representation (often tied to the cost of legal assistance).

The “Urban African Canadians: A Qualitative Study of Serious Legal Problems in Quebec” also notes the impacts of respondents’ legal problem experiences. Experiencing a serious legal problem was found to result in significant and long-term mental and physical health effects, monetary costs, family stress and separation, temporal costs, and distrust of the legal system and police.

“Urban African Canadians: A Qualitative Study of Serious Legal Problems in Quebec” authored by David Austin is published in English here: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/uac-amu/docs/RSD_RR2021_Urban_African_Canadians_EN.pdf.

<< Les Afro-Canadiens en milieu urbain : Une étude qualitative des problèmes d’ordre juridique graves au Québe >> par David Austin est disponible en français ici : https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/pr-rp/jr/amu-uac/docs/RSD_RR2021_Urban_African_Canadians_FR.pdf.

Access to Justice Week in BC to take place February 7-11, 2022

The next Access to Justice Week BC is February 7-11. BC’s Access to Justice Week is designed to “offer information and learning opportunities about access to justice in British Columbia.” Legal sector analyst, Jordan Furlong will give this year’s keynote event on February 9 on “Redefining Competencies for the 21st Century Lawyer”. For more information about events taking place at law schools across BC and online for Access to Justice Week BC, visit: http://www.a2jweekbc.ca/ or follow @a2jweekbc on Twitter for updat”es.

BC First Nations Justice Council To Hold Virtual Grand Opening For Indigenous Justice Centres

On the heels of the recent announcement by federal Minister of Justice, David Lametti, and Attorney General for BC, David Eby regarding the signing of a tripartite memorandum of understanding to support the implementation of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy, and funding to support Indigenous Justice Centres in British Columbia, the BC First Nations Justice Council has announced a virtual grand opening to celebrate the launch of four new Indigenous Justice Centres.

The BC First Nations Justice Council, which seeks to support the well-being of future generations by upholding self-determination, reclaiming Indigenous legal traditions, and addressing systemic injustice invites the public to attend the grand opening on Wednesday, January 26 to learn about the new Indigenous Justice Centres. The event will take place at 11:00 am PST / 2:00 pm EST.

To register, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/bc-first-nations-justice-council-tickets-208242969327.

Justice Canada Publishes Reports on Legal Problem Experiences in Canada’s Provinces

Justice Canada has published a series of reports examining experiences with serious legal problems in Canada’s provinces. The Canadian Legal Problems Survey (CLPS) joins other Canadian legal problems surveys (in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2014) in providing important insights into Canadian’s experiences with serious legal problems and the impacts of these experiences.

Experiences of serious problems or disputes in the Canadian provinces, 2021 is published in English here: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220118/dq220118c-eng.htm.
Expériences de conflits ou de problèmes graves dans les provinces canadiennes, 2021 est disponible en français ici : https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220118/dq220118c-fra.htm.

Justice Canada has also published a series of qualitative legal problems reports from studies carried out with different populations in different parts of Canada. Each report details experiences of these populations with serious legal problems. The collection of reports includes:

Serious Legal Problems faced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Other Sexual-Minority People in Western Canada: A Qualitative Study: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/lgbtq/index.html.
Les graves problèmes juridiques rencontrés par les personnes lesbiennes, gaies, bisexuelles et autres membres de minorités sexuelles dans l’Ouest canadien : Une étude qualitative : https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/pr-rp/jr/lgbtq/index.html.

A Qualitative Look at Serious Legal Problems Faced by Immigrants in Greater Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/ivvbc/index.html.
Un examen qualitatif des problèmes d’ordre juridique graves auxquels se heurtent les immigrants dans les agglomérations de Victoria et de Vancouver (Colombie-Britannique) : https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/pr-rp/jr/ivvbc/index.html.

A Qualitative Look at Serious Legal Problems Facing Immigrants in London and Toronto, Ontario: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/ilto/index.html.
Un examen qualitatif des problèmes d’ordre juridique graves auxquels font face les immigrants à London et à Toronto (Ontario) : https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/pr-rp/jr/ilto/index.html.

Serious Problems Experienced by People with Disabilities Living in Atlantic Canada: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/pwdac-phca/index.html.
Problèmes graves rencontrés par les personnes handicapées au Canada atlantique : https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/pr-rp/jr/phca-pwdac/index.html.

A Qualitative Look at Serious Legal Problems for People with Disabilities in Central Canada: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/pwdcc-phcc/index.html.
Un examen qualitatif des problèmes d’ordre juridique graves touchant les personnes handicapées dans le centre du Canada : https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/pr-rp/jr/phcc-pwdcc/index.html.

Serious Problems Experienced by Diverse People with Disabilities: Western Canada: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/pwdwc-phcw/index.html.
Problèmes graves rencontrés par diverses personnes en situation de handicap – Ouest du Canada : https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/pr-rp/jr/phcw-pwdwc/index.html.

International Group Publishes Policy Paper on Access to Justice for Women and the Rule of Law

A new policy paper by The Elders outlines frameworks and tools for all nation states to respect and proposes measures for governments, civil society, and the legal community to adopt to ensure that “access to justice and the rule of law form the bedrock of the post-pandemic recovery.”

“Access to Justice for Women and the Rule of Law” examines the impacts that the ongoing global health crisis has had on access to justice for women, including as relates to increased risks of intimate partner violence and difficulties accessing support services. The paper takes turns discussing each of three main barriers women face in seeking access to justice: discriminatory laws, discrimination in the application of laws, and complex and inaccessible justice systems. Recommendations for a way forward include:

  • A holistic, long-term, and collaborative approach to understanding women’s justice needs
  • Repealing discriminatory laws and enacting legislation that better protects women
  • Improving data collection and analysis to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the scale of the justice gap as it affects women
  • Efforts by the legal community to increase the number of women in senior positions within the justice system
  • Measures to ensure that services for women are accessible and empowering and reflect a people-centred approach to justice

To read “Access to Justice for Women and the Rule of Law”, visit: https://theelders.org/sites/default/files/newsarticaldocument/The-Elders-Access-to-Justice-for-Women-and-the-Rule-of-Law.pdf.

Project to Assess Unbundled Legal Services Publishes Phase 1 Report

The Family Law Unbundled Legal Services Research Project (ULSRP) is an initiative by the Access to Justice BC Unbundling Working Group, Family Justice Innovation Lab Society, and Standpoint Decisions Inc. which seeks to examine the effectiveness of family unbundled legal services. The project also aims to “facilitate access to justice by enhancing the working relationships between the existing community of [unbundled legal services] providers and BC citizens most in need of unbundled-type services.”

The project is being conducted in two phases, with the focus of Phase 1 to test and demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of a proposed model for ongoing feedback from unbundled legal services clients. Data collected from this project will help service providers, innovators and policy-makers to assess the effectiveness of unbundled family legal services and better understand the user/client experience. The final report from Phase 1 of the Family Law Unbundled Legal Services Research Project is available here: https://www.bcfamilyinnovationlab.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/ULSRP-Phase-1-Report-2021-12-08-File-No-2020-LLR-3552-no-financials.pdf.

Hague Institute for Innovation of Law Publishes Report Examining Connection Between Access to Justice and Poverty

HiiL –the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law— has published findings from a new study that examines the relationship between access to justice and poverty. The recently published “Poverty and Access to Justice” 2021 report includes research carried out across 13 countries with responses from more than 70,000 people. Findings suggest that the relationship between poverty and access to justice is “non-linear” as well as “complex and nuanced”. People who are considered to be poor and the non-poor alike both experience significant problems accessing justice. Notwithstanding, there are more readily discernible differences in the types of legal problems that the poor and non-poor experience, with poor populations generally seeing greater incidents of land rights, family, debt, and social welfare problems. By comparison, the non-poor experience higher rates of employment, personal injury and criminal problems and problems with neighbours.

Learn more about the Poverty and Access to Justice Report by Dr. Martin Gramatikov, Rupinder Kaur, Isabella Banks, and Dr. Kavita Heijstek-Ziemann and published by the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law here: https://www.hiil.org/news/is-development-worsening-the-justice-gap/.

Read the report in full here: https://www.hiil.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/HiiL-report-Poverty-and-Access-to-Justice-web.pdf.

World Justice Project 2021 Index Shows Decline in Rule of Law Around the World

The World Justice Project (WJP) has published the 2021 Rule of Law Index. The WJP Rule of Law Index offers original data on the rule of law as experienced and understood around the world. This latest Rule of Law Index covers 139 countries and jurisdictions (including 11 new countries and the entire European Union), and includes data from national surveys from over 138,000 households and 4,200 legal practitioners and experts.

A global press release by the World Justice Project offers the following highlights from this year’s publication:
• Over 80% of the world’s population “live in a country where rule of law is weakening”; and,
• The areas showing the most significant declines from the global surveys relate to the timeliness of justice, absence of discrimination, constraints on government powers, and civic space.

The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2021 is available here: https://worldjusticeproject.org/our-work/research-and-data/wjp-rule-law-index-2021.