Access to Justice Blog
Analysis and opinions from the leading voices in access to justice research.
This article originally appeared on The Lawyer’s Daily on August 31, 2017. It is the third article in Thomas Cromwell's exclusive The Lawyer's Daily column dedicated to access to civil and family justice.
John Sims was recently named a Member of the Order of Canada for his commitment to access to justice and for his principled and respected leadership as a senior public servant. Since “retiring” as the deputy minister of Justice and deputy attorney general of Canada, John has devoted his enormous energy and his many skills to efforts to improving access to justice. He agreed to respond to some questions from me to help mark this important recognition. I hope that many will use him as a role model and that we may profit from his wise advice.
TC — In your long and distinguished career, you have had the opportunity to view the access to justice issue from many perspectives. Has the nature of the problem evolved over time and if so, how?
JS — Yes, our understanding of access to justice issues has changed dramatically over the last several years. Not... Read More
As part of the CFCJ's national Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada study, over 3,000 people in Canada were surveyed about their attitudes towards and experiences with the justice system in Canada. Specifically, they were asked about the kinds of civil and family justice problems they experience, their methods of dealing with them, and the associated costs they incur to resolve them. The CFCJ is thrilled to announce that the resulting survey data has now been broken down based on the following respondent characteristics: “Age,” “Gender,” “Canadian Region,” "... Read More
Through last year’s R v Jordan ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada illuminated what it dubbed a “culture of complacency” within the Canadian courts. This issue revolves around ongoing delays and has been the subject of many discussions on efficiency in the courts and the importance of timely judicial appointments. While most commentary on this issue centers around criminal law, this post will examine why wait times, as relate specifically to the immigration law system and refugee and asylum claims brought before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, are also a pressing issue.
Refugee and asylum claims have been a seminal topic during the summer of 2017. There are several reasons for this prominence, including dwindling funding to help claimants navigate the legal system and the immigration process and, insufficient resources within the legal system to review older, so-called “... Read More
This article originally appeared on The Lawyer’s Daily on August 16, 2017. It is the third article in Thomas Cromwell's exclusive The Lawyer's Daily column dedicated to access to civil and family justice.
Will we recognize injustice when we see it? And what is injustice anyway? I suspect that these questions are never far from the thoughts of many of us working in the justice system. We hope that we will not be the police officer who pushes too hard to get a suspect’s statement or the prosecutor who wants to “win” too much, or the defence lawyer who misses a path to acquittal or the judge who fails to intervene when justice requires it.
We all recognize the clear cases of injustice — at least after the fact — but what about the ones that are not so clear, such as where the end result seems to be satisfactory, but the way it was arrived at causes us concern.
In his new book: Broken Scales: Reflections on Injustice (American Bar Association, 2017) Joel Cohen, with the assistance of Dale Degenshein, leads us on a course of reflection about these questions in a collection of interviews that present... Read More
The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (CRILF) and the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice are tackling a piece of the access to justice puzzle together by conducting a study on the cost of resolving family law disputes.
“Part of the whole access to justice inquiry has to involve the accessibility of different dispute resolution processes and their relative costs,” said John-Paul Boyd, executive director of the CRILF, adding that this often leads to questions about prioritizing funds.
“For example, we have legal aid programs across Canada since the late '60s [and] early '70s and those legal aid programs are by and large directed towards providing legal assistance to people who are litigating. In terms of where we, as a society, spend our dollars in the justice system, we spend it maintaining the courts. And it’s not that anyone is suggesting that the courts have no value or that courts are going the way of the dodo, they’re not. Courts are necessary ... but just looking at Canadian funding priorities, honestly it’s a bit perplexing to realize that we spend the lion’s share of our money... Read More