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Access to Justice Blog

Analysis and opinions from the leading voices in access to justice research.

Quin Gilbert-Walters
Oct 27, 2015

The A2J debate in Canada and the U.S. includes many perspectives on the challenges of accessing a range of legal services and aid, and offers any number of potential solutions. While my role as Communications and Research Assistant with the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice has, in many ways, provided me with an online platform to discuss issues surrounding A2J in Canada and the U.S., and to learn about the many challenges to legal aid service delivery, on October 1st and 2nd, the inaugural Innovation and Access to Justice Conference provided me with an entirely different platform to engage in conversations surrounding A2J issues: social labs, workshops, panel discussions and one-on-one, in-person dialogues.

Of the many burning questions I sought answers to, one in particular stood out. Before leaving for the conference, a man at the subway station asked me for directions. Normally, I respond with the best directions that I can and go on my way. This time, however, I struck up a conversation with him. I soon learned that he was traveling from Toronto to Barrie to support a friend in court. By way of justification for his travel, he added, “what are you going to do? He’s a... Read More

Ab Currie, PhD
Sep 29, 2015

The United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Program on Drugs and Crime recently launched a worldwide study on legal aid. The study recognizes the significant role legal aid can play in securing people’s rights and entitlements, obtaining redress for grievances and ensuring proper criminal defense. The importance of legal aid was recognized by the member states of the United Nations in 2012 with the release of the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems in 2012 and, more broadly, by the right to equal access to justice for all in the Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels, also in 2012. The Declaration focused on providing access to justice for all, including legal aid.

The global legal aid study will collect information by means of a general questionnaire that is structured to accommodate for significant... Read More

Joseph Palmieri
Jul 31, 2015

We all know someone who is divorced, divorcing or thinking about it. For most, it is a profoundly unpleasant emotional experience. While it is important to recognize that a divorce is a complex process involving a vortex of emotions, a divorce is also a legal process. For couples looking to “uncouple,” the traditional legal dissolution of a marriage presents many difficulties including high costs and time-consuming procedures. Fortunately, the recent emergence of online divorce services such as Wevorce, indicate that the process of obtaining a legal document which declares an end to one’s marriage may be more difficult than necessary. 

Before delving deeper into the philosophy behind Wevorce, it is worth noting that this upsurge in online divorce services has come at a time during which there has been a call for reform in legal services and accessible justice. In Canada, the Final Report of the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters has brought attention to... Read More

Issue of the Month
David Wiseman
Jun 29, 2015

Paralegals, who purportedly offer more affordable and accessible legal services than lawyers, are making a significant contribution to the resolution of residential tenancy disputes in Ottawa, but only for landlords and, increasingly, for corporate landlords.  That is the conclusion indicated by a preliminary quantitative analysis of a sub-set of residential tenancy disputes. This tentative conclusion suggests not only that who provides more affordable/accessible legal services can have an impact on whose legal needs are serviced but also, and more fundamentally, whether access to justice is really being improved in this context at all.

As introduced in a previous CFCJ blog post, this research project aims to identify the role of paralegals in the Ontario residential tenancy dispute resolution system and to analyze their impact on the cost of justice and access to justice, especially for low-income tenants.  The impetus for this study is two-fold.  First, in the face of a perceived ongoing... Read More

Issue of the Month
Patricia Hughes
May 19, 2015

From our inception in 2007, the Law Commission of Ontario has committed to bringing both multidisciplinary experiences and perspectives and those of different communities to bear on our work. Although our mandate is about law, we believe it is important to understand how law affects and is affected by a range of expertise, academic and experiential, depending on the particular project. In many projects, which we call “law in context” or “social justice” projects, law remains at the core of the work, but is informed by what we hear from those bringing their own skills, knowledge and experiences to our analysis and recommendations in whatever area we’re studying.

In our completed projects, we heard the voices of organizations and individuals representing older adults, persons with disabilities African-Canadians and the LGBTQ communities (in our older adults ( or persons with disabilities ( projects or both.

The input of Spanish speakers, Chinese... Read More