A new report from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences urges making access to civil justice a priority and offers recommendations to close the civil justice gap. The report, which was launched on 24 September 2020, is part of an extensive, multi-year project to examine the extent and consequences of the inability of Americans to access legal help for civil justice matters.
The newly published Civil Justice for All report offers seven recommendations:
- Significant financial and human resources investments to close the civil justice gap
- More lawyers who work to address the needs of low-income earners
- More lawyers who offer pro bono and other volunteer assistance
- Open legal marketplaces to allow non-lawyers to help resolve civil justice problems
- More collaboration between legal service providers and professionals in other sectors to address the non-legal dimensions of problems
- Make legal processes, legal information, forms and other resources easier for the public to understand and access
- Create a central body to coordinate and promote the recommendations above and to gather much-needed civil justice data
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront many of the weaknesses in American civil society. It has also brought new challenges and worsened the civil justice gap. A major initiative to ensure access to civil justice is urgently needed to help address this growing problem.
Civil Justice for All: A Report and Recommendations from the Making Justice Accessible Initiative is available online here: https://www.amacad.org/publication/civil-justice-for-all.
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.
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.
A new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Open Society Foundations provides a framework for the development, implementation and evaluation of legal needs surveys to measure access to civil justice. Tools and indicators to assess aspects of civil justice systems have been slow to develop, in particular when compared to criminal justice systems. The newly published Legal Needs Surveys and Access to Justice report offers guidance to create and assess legal needs surveys that is based in learnings and best practices gleaned from a review of more than 20 years of legal needs surveys carried out throughout the world
The three, central dimensions of access to justice that form the bases of the evaluative legal needs framework in the report include:
- The nature and extent of unmet legal and justice needs;
- The impact of unmet legal and justice needs on individuals, the community and the state; and
- How specific models of legal assistance and dispute resolution are utilised to meet needs.
The Legal Needs Surveys and Access to Justice report is available online here: https://www.oecd.org/governance/legal-needs-surveys-and-access-to-justice-g2g9a36c-en.htm.
On May 30th, 2019, the Global Centre for Pluralism will be hosting the Canadian launch of the Task Force on Justice’s “Justice for All” report. The event is being hosted in partnership with the Task Force on Justice and the International Development Research Centre. The “Justice for All” report explores the extent of the global justice gap, the cost of injustice, the benefits of investing in justice, along with other important, topical access to justice issues.
The launch of the report will take place from 8:30-10:00 am EDT in Ottawa and will also be live-streamed. This launch is one of many events that has been organized as part of the Open Governance Partnership Summit (Tuesday 28 – Friday 31 May, 2019): https://www.justice.sdg16.plus/ogpjustice.
Additional information on the Open Governance Partnership Summit and the launch of the report can be found here: https://www.pluralism.ca/event/justice-for-all-canadian-launch-of-the-report-of-the-task-force-on-justice/.
The “Justice for All” report is available in English, French and Spanish here: https://www.justice.sdg16.plus/report.