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 July 19, 2017. It is the third article in Thomas Cromwell's exclusive The Lawyer's Daily column dedicated to access to civil and family justice.
Life isn’t organized like the Canadian Abridgement. The real problems of real people don’t sort themselves into neat categories and they are not contained in watertight compartments. A person’s legal problem is often only one dimension of a much bigger, more complex and multi-faceted problem. And we know that one of the biggest impediments to access to justice results from our justice system failing to respond to these multi-faceted problems in ways that are meaningful and practical.
Our justice system is complex, with lines of authority and responsibility that are often diffuse and unclear. Its components exist in silos — judges, lawyers, court officials — so that co-ordinated work toward a common goal is difficult to achieve. And too often, the justice system is unduly insular so that it is often unable or unwilling to collaborate with other government and community resources, let alone co-ordinate its priorities and approaches with them. In short,... Read More
This article originally appeared on The Lawyer’s Daily on June 12, 2017. It is the second article in Thomas Cromwell's exclusive The Lawyer's Daily column dedicated to access to civil and family justice.
Sometimes symbolic gestures are meaningful. And sometimes they are even important. The recent resolutions by the leaders of the Canadian judiciary concerning access to justice are both.
In April, at the urging of the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, the Canadian Council of Chief Judges (composed of the leaders of the provincial court judiciary) and the Canadian Judicial Council (composed of the leaders of the federally appointed judiciary) passed resolutions supporting the aspirational goal of 100 per cent access to justice and calling on all judges to demonstrate leadership and work with all Canadian citizens and justice system stakeholders to achieve that goal.
Here are the two resolutions.
The Canadian Judicial Council Resolution from its April 2017 meeting:
"THAT the Canadian Judicial Council supports the aspirational goal of the public... Read More
This article originally appeared on The Lawyer’s Daily on March 3, 2017: https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/2599. It is the first article in Thomas Cromwell's exclusive The Lawyer's Daily column dedicated to access to civil and family justice.
Access to justice is the biggest challenge facing our legal system. And just about every lawyer I know cares deeply about the health of that system and many are trying to help. But do we understand the problem and are we making progress? Those questions will be the jumping off spot for this, and subsequent blogs dedicated to access to civil and family justice.
Let’s start with what we mean by the term “access to justice.” I’m concerned that it can have so many meanings that it loses its meaning entirely. Of course it’s a phrase that is bandied around to mean a lot of very different things. What I mean by access to justice is assuring that people have the knowledge, skills, resources and services to meaningfully address their civil and family legal issues.
In order to meaningfully address their problems, people do not necessarily need to have... Read More
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has announced plans for substantial cuts to its immigration and refugee law services. Other legal aid programs across Canada are no doubt watching this closely, and may be considering similar measures. The proposed cuts, however, may be unconstitutional.
Proposed 40% cuts to Refugee Law Services
Currently, refugee claimants in Ontario who meet the test for financial eligibility can obtain legal aid certificates for assistance in putting together their claim, including drafting Basis of Claim narratives (the key document used in refugee determinations). Most financially eligible refugee claimants also receive legal aid certificates for representation at their refugee hearings, with only a small number refused representation due to merit screening. In addition, LAO funds some other types of representation, including appeals to the Refugee Appeal Division, judicial review of certain immigration and refugee matters in Federal Court, Pre-Removal Risk assessments, Humanitarian and Compassionate applications for Permanent Residence, and immigration detention... Read More
A number of reports published in recent years have highlighted the lack of research on access to justice in Canada and have called for more. In a Canadian Forum on Civil Justice column published on slaw.ca, Andrew Pilliar discusses the state of access to justice research in Canada and offers insight into how much access to justice research is being funded in Canada. Read “The Cost of Justice (Research)” here.