Despite wide recognition that access to justice is one of the most basic rights of democratic citizenship, unfulfilled legal needs are at a tipping point in many parts of the Canadian justice system and around the world. High legal fees, complex and expensive administration, lack of funding, political inattention, insufficient research and education, and a relatively uninformed public feed into the problem.
The Justice Crisis assesses what is and isn’t working in efforts to improve access to civil and family justice. Meaningful access is often a question of providing pathways to resolving everyday legal issues. The availability of justice services that aren’t only tied to the courts and lawyers – such as public education on the law, alternative dispute settlement, and paralegal support – is therefore an important concern.
Contributors to this wide-ranging overview of new empirical research address several key issues: the extent and cost of unmet legal needs; the role of public funding; connections between legal and social exclusion among vulnerable populations, including Indigenous communities; the value of new legal pathways; legal fee structures; the provision of justice services that go beyond the courts and lawyers; and the need for a culture change within the justice system. Their findings can inform initiatives to improve access to justice within the Canadian system and beyond.
Scholars and students of law, political science, public policy, and sociology will find this book extremely useful, as will lawyers and judges, government officials, regulators, and community-based organizations and activists.
Rather than reiterating the rhetoric of the access to justice crisis in Canada, this volume provides readers with both a sophisticated portrait of the complexity of the problem and glimpses of the structural reforms that are essential if we are to make any genuine progress.
Canada needs more than a nudge on civil justice reform. It needs a civil justice movement. This book is a model that will help inform reform efforts.
Trevor C.W. Farrow is a professor and former associate dean at Osgoode Hall Law School, and the chair of the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice. His books include Civil Justice, Privatization, and Democracy and The Theory and Practice of Representative Negotiation (with Colleen Hanycz and Frederick H. Zemans), and he is a co-editor of The Courts and Beyond: The Architecture of Justice in Transition (with Patrick Molinari).
Lesley A. Jacobs is vice-president of research and innovation at Ontario Tech University and York Research Chair in Human Rights and Access to Justice at York University, where he is currently a professor on leave. He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) in 2017 and has written or edited numerous books, most recently Grey Zones in International Economic Law and Global Governance (with Daniel Drache).
Contributors: Carolyn Carter, Thomas A. Cromwell, Ab Currie, Matthew Dylag, Heather Heavin, Devon Kapoor, Michaela Keet, Jennifer Koshan, Herbert M. Kritzer, Moktar Lamari, Marylène Leduc, M. Jerry McHale, Lisa Moore, Janet Mosher, Pierre Noreau, Mitchell Perlmutter, Catherine Piché, Noel Semple, Lorne Sossin, Michael Trebilcock, Wanda Wiegers, David Wiseman
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