The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect justice systems around the world in unprecedented ways. From widespread court closures to dramatic increases in incidences of domestic violence, employment, housing and other civil justice problems, the impacts are extensive. They are also present additional challenges for vulnerable and marginalized populations.
A new report by UNODC and UNDP presents several considerations for legal practitioners and policy makers to help ensure access to justice during the current global health crisis. The “Ensuring Access to Justice in the Context of COVID-19″ report is divided into 3 sections: Preparation, Response and Recovery. While the report does not seek to be exhaustive in its discussion of important measures to consider during the crisis (as well as during subsequent waves of outbreaks), it highlights important considerations for the justice community to effectively respond to challenges in the short-, medium- and long-term.
“Ensuring Access to Justice in the Context of COVID-19” is available for download here: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/ensuring-access-justice-context-covid-19.
“Justice For Women Amidst Covid-19” is a newly published report that outlines some of the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed access to justice for women around the world.
The report documents both new challenges and pre-existing gender justice gaps that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, including an increase in domestic violence, and implores that urgent action to be taken. With stay-at-home orders in effect to varying extents globally, many local avenues for help have not been available or accessible to women.
Director-General of IDLO, Jan Beagle urges that we not make gender equality and women’s rights a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. She adds that, “as the risk of gender-based violence continues to grow during the pandemic, and the ability of justice institutions to effectively deliver services is diminished, it is of utmost priority to forge innovative ways to support women’s access to justice and empower them to realize their rights.”
The report also makes the case for investment in justice services and programs that will benefit women and girls and presents strategies to improve access to justice for women.
“Justice for Women Amidst COVID-19” was jointly produced by UN Women, IDLO, UNDP, UNODC, World Bank and The Pathfinders for Justice; the report is supported by The Elders. “Justice for Women Amidst COVID-19” is available in full here: https://www.justice.sdg16.plus/justiceforwomen.
“Charging for Justice” is a new report that explores different ways of thinking about how to fund justice. The report examines how money comes into the justice sector and discusses ways to gain better access to the resources that are necessary to move the dial on equal access to justice for all (UN SDG 16.3).
Millions of people around the world face obstacles to resolve their legal problems, lack necessary protections through the law and are otherwise in unsafe situations that they find difficult to extricate themselves from. The “Charging for Justice” report urges a change in thinking about how to fund justice that is supported by research that demonstrates the far-reaching economic, social, environmental and health benefits of accessible, effective, efficient and well-funded justice services and programs.
Charging for Justice – SDG 16.3 Trend Report 2020 was published by The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) and is available online here: https://www.hiil.org/projects/charging-for-justice/.
The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020 is now available. This report offers comparable, independent data on rule of law around the world, including insights on changes in rankings within regional and economic groupings as well as changes to individual rule of law factors for each country. Data in the 2020 report was gathered from more than 130,000 household surveys and 4,000 legal expert surveys in 128 countries.
In addition to the 2020 Rule of Law Index, the World Justice Project has also released an interactive, user-friendly data map with global and country insights, data highlights and other information from the 2020 Index. The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020 and the Rule of Law Index 2020 Interactive Data Map are both available here: https://worldjusticeproject.org/our-work/research-and-data/wjp-rule-law-index-2020.
Findings from the largest ever legal needs survey to be carried out in England and Wales are now available in the recently published “Legal Needs of Individuals in England and Wales” report. A summary report has also been released. Data in the reports are based on a survey of over 28,000 people in England and Wales in 2019. This representative population sample covers more than 30 different legal issues. This is also the first legal needs study in England and Wales to apply Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidance for the development of the survey.
This legal needs survey was commissioned by the Law Society and the Legal Services Board. The summary report and full report can be accessed online here: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/research-trends/legal-needs-of-individuals-in-england-and-wales-report/.
The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) has published a major report that examines the return on investment in access to justice in several regions, including North America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Australia and Asia. The report concludes that, “across a diversity of justice programs, services and mechanisms around the world, spending on justice results in significant economic and other benefits that generally significantly exceed the value of the investment.” In most cases, the rate of return on investment in justice services and programs is between CAD $9 and $16 for every CAD $1 that is spent.
This new report is one of ten international background reports commissioned by the Task Force on Justice to help inform their efforts towards equal access to justice for all by 2030 (UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.3).
Investing in Justice – A Literature Review in Support of the Case for Improved Access is available for download on the CFCJ website here: https://cfcj-fcjc.org/wp-content/uploads/Investing-in-Justice-A-Literature-Review-in-Support-of-the-Case-for-Improved-Access-by-Lisa-Moore-and-Trevor-C-W-Farrow.pdf.
In April 2019, Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO’s) funding was cut by $133 million, a 29% reduction in LAO’s budget. Further, in reducing funding tor LAO, the provincial government indicated that provincial funds could no longer be used for matters related to refugee and immigration law.
On Wednesday, September 11 from 2:30pm – 4:00 pm the Centre for Refugee Studies at Osgoode Hall Law School will host a seminar to discuss the impacts of these cuts, advocacy efforts in response to the cuts in legal aid funding, the one-time injection of $26 million in funding provided by the federal government to help offset the impacts of the cuts, as well as the future of access to justice for refugee claimants and non-citzens in this context.
For more information on the upcoming Legal Aid for Refugee Claimants Seminar, visit the following page: https://crs.info.yorku.ca/archives/event/crs-seminar-legal-aid-for-refugees?instance_id=158.
This event is co-sponsored by the Centre for Refugee Studies, the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice and the Canadian Associaion of Refugee Lawyers (Osgoode Students).
A new inventory containing information on 88 legal digital tools aims to offer the Canadian public a way to conveniently access information on digital tools to address their legal needs. The inventory, which is currently in draft form, includes information from various areas of law including family, criminal, employment, and immigration. For each tool included in the inventory, information is provided on the cost (including if the tool is free to use), the intended user of the tool, the function, the type of law that it relates to and the developer of the tool. A brief description is also provided for each tool.
The Inventory of Digital Tools was created by Professor Amy Salyzyn (University of Ottawa) and JD students, William Burke and Angela Lee. The development of this inventory builds on previous research by Professors Jena McGill, Suzanne Bouclin, and Amy Salyzyn on the potential use of mobile and web-based applications to improve access to justice. For more information on the Inventory of Digital Tools or to provide feedback, visit the following webpage: https://techlaw.uottawa.ca/direct-public-legal-digital-tools-canada.
The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) has announced the launch of the first phase of a project aimed at “Measuring the Impacts of Legal Service Interventions”. This new project, which is funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO), will focus on the development of a longitudinal impact study that assesses the effectiveness of different types of legal service interventions on the outcome of particular types of legal disputes. The study will also seek to measure the impacts on the long-term health of clients, while providing necessary insights into the costs and benefits of such interventions.
Having a better and more accurate understanding of how different types of legal interventions impact the outcome of a dispute can help to provide the public with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about how to deal with their legal problem(s) and potentially improves their legal capabilities. It can help governments, policy makers and funders to understand which justice pathways and tools show the most promise in particular scenarios, and this type of information can also assist legal service providers with decisions around how to allocate budgets and scale different services.
The press release for this newly launched Law Foundation of Ontario funded project can be accessed here: http://cfcj-fcjc.org/wp-content/uploads/Measuring-the-Impact-of-Legal-Service-Interventions-CFCJ-LFO-Press-Release.pdf.
The World Justice Project has published its first Global Insights on Access to Justice report, which presents comparable data on experiences of everyday legal problems and access to justice by people around the globe. The report highlights a range of noteworthy findings, including the pervasiveness and frequency of civil justice problems worldwide and that most people do not go to courts or seek legal assistance from lawyers when trying to resolve their problems.
Based on surveys carried out in more than a 100 countries, the report found that almost half –49%— of people experienced at least one legal problem within the last two years. Overall, the most common types of problems were consumer problems, housing problems, and problems related to money and debt. The Global Insights report also emphasizes the adverse impacts of legal problems on peoples’ physical and mental health, as well as the significant access to justice barriers that people face when trying to deal with their legal problems.
The data in Global Insights report derives from the World Justice Project’s General Population Poll (GPP), which was carried out in 101 countries and jurisdictions in 2017 and 2018 with a sample of 1,000 respondents in each country (and over 100,000 people worldwide).
Global Insights on Access to Justice 2019 is available on the World Justice Project website here: https://worldjusticeproject.org/our-work/research-and-data/global-insights-access-justice-2019.