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.

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/.

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.

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.

Recent OECD Report Examines Regulatory Quality and Governance Globally

For a third year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has published a Regulatory Policy Outlook which provides details on how countries “approach the design, enforcement and revision of regulations, and suggests where countries can best focus their efforts to ensure that laws and regulations work as intended.” The report offers additional insights on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and what the global health crisis has revealed about the importance of rule-making to save lives and money. The OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2021 also includes a series of recommendations and explores strategies such as regulatory sandboxes and regulations guided by empirical research insights which can facilitate more innovative and efficient rule-making.


An overview of the 2021 OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook is available here: https://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/oecd-regulatory-policy-outlook-2021-38b0fdb1-en.htm. Read the Executive Summary here: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/38b0fdb1-en/index.html?itemId=/content/publication/38b0fdb1-en.

Atlas of Legal Needs Surveys Gives Interactive Look at More Than 90 Legal Needs Studies

The World Justice Project (WJP) has published an interactive data map and directory of legal needs surveys. The Atlas of Legal Needs Surveys is a newly published WJP resource that provides information on publicly available legal needs surveys carried out in more than 100 countries and jurisdictions. Information on legal needs surveys in the Atlas dates back to 1993. New legal needs surveys will be added to the Atlas as they become available.

To learn more about the Atlas of Legal Needs or to download the Atlas as an Excel file, visit: https://worldjusticeproject.org/our-work/research-and-data/atlas-legal-needs-surveys.

On October 14, 2021, the WJP will host a global launch for the 2021 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index. For more information, or to register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/world-justice-project-rule-of-law-index-2021-global-launch-registration-168956985893.

New Study asks 10,000 Americans about their Experiences with Legal Problems

A collaborative study by the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) and the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL), and funded by the Bohemian Foundation asked 10,000 people across the U.S. about legal problems that they experienced within the past 4 years; how they resolved these problems; and the fairness of resolution outcomes.

The nationwide Justice Needs survey offers insight into experiences with more than a dozen legal problem types across a range of socio-demographic groups. The findings reveal disproportionate experiences of legal problems based on race, age, gender, income, ethnicity and other factors. The study also reveals that annually, 55 million Americans experience 260 million legal problems. Of the survey respondents who experienced at least one legal problem in the past four years, fewer than 50% reported that their problem had been completely resolved.

“Justice Needs and Satisfaction in the United States of America 2021: Legal Problems in Daily Life” by IAALS and HiiL is available online here: https://iaals.du.edu/projects/us-justice-needs.

Thomson Reuters Institute Publishes Report on the Impacts of the Pandemic on State and Local Courts

The Thomson Reuters Institute has published findings from a study on “The Impacts of the Pandemic on State and Local Courts” in the U.S. The study includes responses from over 200 state, county and municipal court professionals across the U.S., including judges and chief justices, magistrates, court administrators, attorneys, and clerks of the court. The study explores successes and challenges of shifts to remote hearings; the extent to which the pandemic has created or worsened existing court backlogs; court technology gaps and solutions; and the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 era on court hearings.

“The Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on State and Local Courts Study 2021: A Look at Remote Hearings, Legal Technology, Case Backlogs and Access to Justice” is available online here: https://legal.thomsonreuters.com/content/dam/ewp-m/documents/legal/en/pdf/white-papers/covid-court-report_final.pdf.

For additional information about this study, visit the Thomson Reuters website here: https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en-us/posts/legal/pandemic-impact-courts-report-2021/.

A Case Study on People-Centered Access to Justice from Argentina

A report by the former National Director of Access to Justice for the national Ministry of Justice of Argentina is providing insight into the development of a network of people-centered justice service centers across Argentina. “Putting People at the Center: A Case Study on Access to Justice Centers” offers a discussion of the objectives, strategic principles and operational tools guiding this national access to justice initiative in Argentina.

The report highlights external, political-institutional, and procedural considerations for designing a large-scale access to justice program. It also details the challenges and benefits of implementing a large-scale public program devoted to people-centered justice, and provides an experiential perspective that can serve as a guidepost for similar initiatives.

“Putting People at the Center: A Case Study on Access to Justice Centers in Argentina” by Gustavo Maurino is available in English here: https://530cfd94-d934-468b-a1c7-c67a84734064.filesusr.com/ugd/6c192f_2bfcbb9af90d423083933789ab4b433c.pdf.

More information about this initiative is available from this article by the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies: https://medium.com/sdg16plus/people-centered-justice-matters-a-case-study-in-argentina-df82e5e268f9 .