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.

Study on the Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone Makes Important Recommendations for Scaling Up Community Justice Services

On average, it costs users of local, paralegal services in Sierra Leone US $8.44 to access the service, far below what it costs to access the formal justice system. According to a new report on the Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone, without these community-based justice services, the government would spend approximately US $23.3M to support access to justice services through the formal justice system. This compares with approximately US $18.3M to access community-based justice services. This is among several important findings from a first-of-its-kind study by the Center for Alternative Policy Research & Innovation on The Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone.

The report makes 10 recommendations for scaling up paralegal-based justice services, including:

  • Establishing a National Legal Empowerment Fund;
  • Funding exploratory research;
  • Further reducing out-of-pocket costs to access community-based justice services;
  • Meaningfully integrating community-based justice services in the broader justice sector; and
  • Building robust and efficient monitoring and evaluation systems.

The Costs and Benefits of Community-Based Justice in Sierra Leone by Felix Marco Conteh, Yakama Manty Jones, Sonkita Conteh, Henry Mbawa and Aisha Fofana Ibrahim (CAPRI) is available online here: https://www.caprisl.org/post/the-costs-and-benefits-of-community-based-justice-in-sierra-leone.

This project was funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and is one of the final research outputs from a multi-country research initiative on Community-Based Justice Research.

Justice Canada Publishes Call for Projects under the Canadian Family Justice Fund

The Department of Justice of Canada has released a call for projects under the Canadian Family Justice Fund (CFJF). The CFJF “facilitates access to the family justice system for families experiencing separation and divorce through the provision of various services, programs and information resources”.

Project proposals are being sought that focus on the following priority areas:

  • Supporting the well-being of family members
  • Reaching diverse and underserved populations
  • Supporting alternatives to court
  • Improving and streamlining family justice system links/processes  

Individuals, non-profit organizations and non-profit professional organizations, societies or associations, educational institutions, and private sector organizations sponsoring non-profit projects in partnership with federal, provincial, or territorial governments are invited to apply. Information on the Canadian Family Justice Fund is available in English at https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fund-fina/famil/index.html et en français à : https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/fina-fund/famil/index.html.

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.