New Report Includes more than 40 Recommendations for Improving Access to Justice for Separating Families in England and Wales

JUSTICE, a reform and human rights organisation in the UK working to improve the justice system, has published a new report on Improving Access to Justice for Separating Families. While the report notes that there are serious access to justice challenges being experienced by families accessing the justice system, the focus of the report is on private family disputes in England and Wales involving children. The report applies an ‘access to justice’ lens to examine the rights of children and families and makes 43 recommendations related to child arrangements problems and their resolution in England and Wales. The key principles that guided this work by the JUSTICE organisation are:

i) The rule of law requires access to forms of dispute resolution – including access to the court system.
ii) The family justice system must be designed around the needs of families, not the expertise of legal professionals; and
iii) The child’s perspective must be at the heart of every stage of dispute resolution in the family justice system.

Improving Access to Justice for Separating Families, A Report by JUSTICE is available online here: https://bit.ly/ImproveFamilyJusticeUK.

Annual Access to Justice Week to Focus on Using Data to Address Legal Needs

The seventh annual Access to Justice Week will run from October 24 to 28, 2022. This year’s event will feature a series of workshops and presentations on the theme, “Access to Justice Counts: Using Data to Address the Legal Needs of Canadians”. The full schedule is now available. The public is invited to learn more by visiting the event website and register to attend events, which will take place virtually: https://lso.ca/theactiongroup/access-to-justice-week.

B.C. Government Publishes Intentions Paper on Regulatory Modernization and Seeks Feedback on Proposed Reforms

The British Columbia Ministry of Attorney General has published “Legal Professions Regulatory Modernization”, an intentions paper discussing B.C.’s legal services landscape, previous reform efforts in the province, and proposed reforms. Among the proposed reforms, the paper lists:

  • A single statute and a single regulator;
  • A clear mandate that communicates the regulator’s core responsibilities and powers;
  • A modernized governance framework;
  • A flexible licensing framework;
  • An efficient discipline framework to ensure that there are effective processes in place to maintain competence and professional conduct and practice among those subject to the regulation; and,
  • An enhanced focus on public interest.

For anyone interested in providing feedback to the proposals, the B.C. Ministry of the Attorney General invites written submissions via email at PLD@gov.bc.ca or feedback submitted via online survey at https://engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/consultation/legal-professions-reform/. Submissions will be accepted until November 18, 2022.

Justice Canada Revises Questionnaire for Federal Judicial Appointments

The Department of Justice Canada has made changes to the Questionnaire for Federal Judicial Appointments. Incorporating feedback received from the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC), the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) and the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs (OCFJA) since 2016, the newly revised Questionnaire seeks to be more respectful and offer more inclusive language for candidates, among other changes. The Questionnaire is open to persons who wish to be considered for a federal judicial appointment.

For more information on changes to the Questionnaire, view the Department of Justice’s news release in English here: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-justice/news/2022/09/government-of-canada-announces-changes-to-federal-judicial-appointment-questionnaire.html et en français ici : https://www.canada.ca/fr/ministere-justice/nouvelles/2022/09/le-gouvernement-du-canada-annonce-des-modifications-au-questionnaire-pour-les-nominations-a-la-magistrature-federale.html.

Access to Justice Week in Manitoba is October 24-28, 2022

Events for the third annual Access to Justice Week in Manitoba will run from October 24-28, 2022. The event will feature important conversations around access to justice in Manitoba and across Canada, including a presentation from Justice Canada representative, Susan McDonald on October 25 on People-Centered Data Collection. Access to Justice Week in Manitoba is being hosted jointly by the Manitoba Bar Association and the University of Manitoba.

For more information about Access to Justice Week, including the calendar of events, visit: https://lawsociety.mb.ca/access-to-justice-week-event-people-centred-data-collection-october-25-2022/.

Access to Justice Research Study Launched in Manitoba

The University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law and the Law Society of Manitoba have launched a study to learn about the legal service needs of Manitobans. The recently launched Access to Justice Research Study seeks to engage practising and non-practising lawyers and articling students for a short, confidential survey on Manitobans’ legal needs. Researchers hope that insights from the study will contribute to better alignment of policies and services with access to justice needs in Manitoba. The survey is estimated to take approximately 15 minutes to complete and it will remain open until Thursday, September 29.

This research is being spearheaded by Professor Gerard Kennedy (University of Manitoba Faculty of Law) and Natasha Brown (Manitoba’s Access to Justice Coordinator ). To read the news release about this study or to take the survey, visit: https://lawsociety.mb.ca/university-of-manitoba-joint-access-to-justice-research-study/.

Justice Department Publishes Report on Indigenous and Restorative Justice Approaches

A new report published by the Justice Department of Canada provides details on a panel discussion held in February 2022 on Indigenous and Restorative Justice Approaches. The panel discussion that informed the recently published Indigenous and Restorative Justice Approaches report was designed to help set the stage for the National Restorative Collaborative Learning Conference, taking place in October 2022. Key discussion themes at the February panel included: the need for greater awareness of concepts and terminology on Indigenous and restorative justice (Indigenous Justice, Customary laws, Restorative Justice, etc.); understanding the meaning of “justice”; and, more broadly, the need for more education and awareness among lawyers and legal professionals of how to be an ally to Indigenous peoples, the differences among and within First Nations, Inuit, Métis communities and cultures, among other, related topics.

The Justice Department’s report on Indigenous and Restorative Justice Approaches is available in English here: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/jr/irja-afajr/index.html.

Le rapport de la table ronde : Approches fondées sur les Autochtones et la justice réparatrice est disponible en français ici : https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/pr-rp/jr/afajr-irja/index.html.

New Reports Offer Guidance on Reporting and Prosecution of Sexual Assault on PEI

RISE, a community legal information organization that offers support for victims of sexual and intimate partner violence and workplace sexual harassment, has published a series of reports aimed at offering guidance to victims of sexual assault on PEI who are over the age of 18. “Reporting Sexual Assault: A Guide for Victims on PEI” offers information on where to access support services and the types of supports that are available, what constitutes sexual assault and consent, sexual assault evidence kits, among other important information.  The “Sexual Assault Prosecution: A Guide for Victims on PEI” report discusses prosecution of sexual assault and offers an overview of the process, the parties involved,  and addresses questions that might arise for persons going through the process.

“Reporting Sexual Assault: A Guide for Victims on PEI” and “Sexual Assault Prosecution: A Guide for Victims on PEI” are available on the RISE website in French and English here: https://www.risepei.com/en/downloads. The publications are not a substitute for guidance from a lawyer.

Law Commission of Ontario Publishes Major Report on Accountable AI

The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) has released a third major report examining artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making (ADM) in the Canadian justice system. 

“Accountable AI” analyzes AI and ADM systems used to assist government decision-making, and considers issues of legal accountability when these systems are applied in decision-making in the civil and administrative justice systems.

Key questions explored in the report include:

  • Why and how governments are using AI
  • How AI changes government decision-making
  • The elements of AI regulation
  • How to fulfill the promise of “Trustworthy AI”
  • How to adapt human rights and administrative law to government AI decision-making
  • Ensuring public engagement
  • Improving access to justice

The LCO’s “Accountable AI” report identifies 19 recommendations to address bias in AI systems, “black-box” decision-making, due process, and the need for public engagement.

The final report is available online here: https://www.lco-cdo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/LCO-Accountable_AI_Final_Report.pdf.

For the LCO’s other reports on AI, ADM and the justice system, visit the LCO website here: https://www.lco-cdo.org/en/our-current-projects/ai-adm-and-the-justice-system/.

New Report Examines Pathways to Justice in British Columbia

The Access to Justice Centre for Excellence at the University of Victoria (UVic ACE) has published new research that examines the pathways that people in British Columbia take to solve their civil justice problems. Understanding what people do when they experience a serious civil justice problem and the pathways that are accessible to them to resolve those problems offers important insights into people’s legal awareness and the impact of public legal education and information for the public. It also provides understandings on how people engage with the justice system. In addition, the increased use of technology in the legal sector is transforming how people interact with the legal system and requires further study to understand the impacts for existing pathways and the new pathways that will become available.

The “Navigating Access to Justice Pathways” report includes findings from an exploratory study of experiences with civil and family law problems in British Columbia that aims to:

  • Develop a more robust understanding of how people define the civil and family law justice problems they experience
  • Map common pathways used to resolve civil and family justice problems
  • Identify the barriers people face when they try to access certain pathways and the impact of those barriers on their decisions
  • Understand how people prioritize and manage multiple legal problems

Navigating Access to Justice Pathways: Problem Resolution Routes for People Experiencing Civil and Family Law Problems in British Columbia by Yvon Dandurand, Jessica Jahn, Cathy Tait, and Megan Capp is available online here: https://ajrndotco.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/5876c-navigatingaccesstojusticepathways_ace_april20_2022.pdf.