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.
The Family Law Unbundled Legal Services Research Project (ULSRP) is an initiative by the Access to Justice BC Unbundling Working Group, Family Justice Innovation Lab Society, and Standpoint Decisions Inc. which seeks to examine the effectiveness of family unbundled legal services. The project also aims to “facilitate access to justice by enhancing the working relationships between the existing community of [unbundled legal services] providers and BC citizens most in need of unbundled-type services.”
The project is being conducted in two phases, with the focus of Phase 1 to test and demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of a proposed model for ongoing feedback from unbundled legal services clients. Data collected from this project will help service providers, innovators and policy-makers to assess the effectiveness of unbundled family legal services and better understand the user/client experience. The final report from Phase 1 of the Family Law Unbundled Legal Services Research Project is available here: https://www.bcfamilyinnovationlab.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/ULSRP-Phase-1-Report-2021-12-08-File-No-2020-LLR-3552-no-financials.pdf.
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.
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.
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.
Canadians rely on duty counsel to help navigate the justice system. They play an important role in facilitating access to justice in Canada.
Duty Counsel Day is a national, virtual event that will take place on October 27th from 5-6pm ET/2-3 pm PT.
Here are some ways that you can participate in Duty Counsel Day:
- Encourage staff to register for the nationwide online event: www.knowdutycounsel.ca/event
- Share your personal video greeting during Access to Justice Week (Oct. 25-29): https://youtu.be/J8ODcKC2jO0
- Post on social media (here are some sample posts to make things easy):
“Every Canadian deserves help navigating the justice system. Celebrate our charter right to legal support. I’m taking part in Duty Counsel Day Oct 27. Please join me at the nationwide online event www.knowdutycounsel.ca #a2j
« Chaque Canadienne et Canadien devrait pouvoir progresser dans le système de justice. Célébrez notre droit à l’aide juridique conféré par notre Charte. Je participerai à la Journée des avocats de service qui aura lieu le 27 octobre. Joignez-vous, dans tout le pays, à cet événement qui se déroulera en ligne. https://avocatsdeservicealaune.ca/
You can also download social media images for Duty Counsel Day.
For more information on Duty Counsel Day, please visit: https://www.knowdutycounsel.ca/ or https://avocatsdeservicealaune.ca/.
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.
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.
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/.
The Alberta Law Foundation has published a report that examines challenges and best practices for the remote delivery of legal services to low-income Albertans. The report explores several aspects of legal service delivery as relate specifically to the COVID-19 pandemic, although the focus is more generally on remote legal service delivery before the pandemic and beyond the pandemic.
The Remote Legal Services to Low-Income Albertans – Challenges and Best Practices report discusses remote legal service delivery models and tools and addresses impacts of remote service delivery for specific groups. The discussion of remote legal service delivery is organized around the following topics:
- Silver Linings of the Transition to Remote Legal Service Delivery
- Challenges with Remote Legal Service Delivery
- Service Modifications in Response to the Pandemic
- Literature Review about Best Practices
- Innovative Projects and Hubs in the U.S. and Canada
- Technology Tools and Resources
The final report also includes resources for further information.
The Alberta Law Foundation’s Remote Legal Services to Low-Income Albertans – Challenges and Best Practices report was written by Flora Stevenson and is available online in English here: https://www.albertalawfoundation.org/news/new-report-remote-legal-services-to-low-income-albertans-challenges-and-best-practices.