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/.

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.

Project to Assess Unbundled Legal Services Publishes Phase 1 Report

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.

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.

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/.

New Discussion Paper Highlights the Importance of People-Centered Justice Data

A recently published paper is drawing attention to the need for more people-centered justice data in order to support decision-making by policymakers, funders, innovators and other justice stakeholders. Weak data can serve to undermine progress. Making the shift to more effective justice innovations and facilitating better justice investment strategies requires an understanding of the types of justice problems that people commonly face as well as the ways that these justice problems impact people’s lives. Available justice data does not yet meet these standards. “Grasping the Justice Gap” discusses these and other key messages and offers insights on failing justice data ecosystems and how to build effect data ecosystems for people-centered justice.

Grasping the Justice Gap: Opportunities and Challenges for People-Centered Justice Data by Peter Chapman and published by the World Justice Project and Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies is available online here: https://530cfd94-d934-468b-a1c7-c67a84734064.filesusr.com/ugd/6c192f_33364b9803b645b8a4fa17433edcb13d.pdf.