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Article

Access_open Administering Justice and Serving the People

The Tension between the Objective of Judicial Efficiency and Informal Justice in Canadian Access to Justice Initiatives

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2017
Keywords access to justice, procedural law, courts, civil justice reform, comparative law
Authors Catherine Piché
AbstractAuthor's information

    Canada has a complex system of courts that seek to serve Canadians in view of the traditional objectives of civil justice – principally accessibility, efficiency, fairness, efficacy, proportionality and equality. The Canadian court system is generally considered by its users to work well and to have legitimacy. Yet, researchers have found that ‘there is a tendency for people involved in a civil case to become disillusioned about the ability of the system to effect a fair and timely resolution to a civil justice problem’. This article will discuss the ways in which reforms of procedural law and civil justice have originated and continue to be made throughout Canada, both nationally and provincially, as well as the trends and influences in making these reforms. With hundreds of contemporary procedural reforms having been discussed, proposed and/or completed since the first days of Canadian colonisation on a national basis and in the Canadian provinces and territory, providing a detailed analysis will prove challenging. This article will nonetheless provide a review of civil justice and procedural reform issues in Canada, focusing principally, at the provincial level, on the systems of Ontario and Quebec. Importantly, I will seek to reconcile the increasing willingness to have an economically efficient civil justice and the increased power of judges in managing cases, with our court system’s invasion of ADR and its prioritisation of informal modes of adjudication.


Catherine Piché
Dr. Prof. Catherine Piché, Université de Montreal.
Article

Access_open Austerity’s Effect on English Civil Justice

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2015
Keywords Austerity, court fees and legal aid, adversarial and inquisitorial process, McKenzie Friends, simplified process
Authors John Sorabji
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article considers the effect of austerity-induced public spending cuts on the English civil justice system. In doing so it initially examines two fundamental changes engendered by the effect austerity has had on civil court fees and legal aid: first, a challenge to the traditional commitment in English procedure to adversarial process, and a concomitant increase in inquisitorial or investigative processes; and secondly, the growth in use of unqualified individuals to act as advocates in court for individual litigants who are unable to afford legal representation. It then turns to consider what, if any, effect austerity has had on simplified processes available in English civil procedure.


John Sorabji
DPhil, Senior Fellow, UCL Judicial Institute, University College, London, email: j.sorabji@ucl.ac.uk.
Article

Access_open Canadian Civil Justice: Relief in Small and Simple Matters in an Age of Efficiency

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2015
Keywords Canada, small and simple matters, austerity, civil justice, access to justice
Authors Jonathan Silver and Trevor C.W. Farrow
AbstractAuthor's information

    Canada is in the midst of an access to justice crisis. The rising costs and complexity of legal services in Canada have surpassed the need for these services. This article briefly explores some obstacles to civil justice as well as some of the court-based programmes and initiatives in place across Canada to address this growing access to justice gap. In particular, this article explains the Canadian civil justice system and canvasses the procedures and programmes in place to make the justice system more efficient and improve access to justice in small and simple matters. Although this article does look briefly at the impact of the global financial crisis on access to justice efforts in Canada, we do not provide empirical data of our own on this point. Further, we conclude that there is not enough existing data to draw correlations between austerity measures in response to the global crisis and the challenges facing Canadian civil justice. More evidence-based research would be helpful to understand current access to justice challenges and to make decisions on how best to move forward with meaningful innovation and policy reform. However, there is reason for optimism in Canada: innovative ideas and a national action plan provide reason to believe that the country can simplify, expedite, and increase access to civil justice in meaningful ways over the coming years.


Jonathan Silver
Jonathan Silver, B.A. Honors, J.D. 2015, Osgoode Hall Law School.

Trevor C.W. Farrow
Trevor C.W. Farrow is Professor and Associate Dean, Osgoode Hall Law School. He is very grateful to Jonathan Silver, who took the lead in researching and writing this article.

Xandra Kramer
Xandra Kramer is a professor at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Deputy Judge at the District Court of Rotterdam.

Shusuke Kakiuchi
Shusuke Kakiuchi is a professor at the University of Tokyo.
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