Institutionalizing Access-to-Justice: Judicial, Legislative and Grassroots Dimensions

30 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2011

See all articles by Faisal Bhabha

Faisal Bhabha

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: 2007


It is well understood that there can be no legal right without a remedy and, further that the remedy must be accessible if it is to be meaningful. In reality, however, the pragmatic concerns associated with effectuating access-to-justice have proven complex. Of particular concern is how best to ensure access-to-justice for those who lack the financial means to litigate. This concern has taken on a particular importance in light of two recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions on advanced costs and the right to legal aid, as well as the Government of Canada’s recent cancellation of the Court Challenges Program.

The current deficit in access-to-justice programs suggests that a more multi-faceted approach involving judicial initiatives, legislative programs and coordination amongst social activists is needed to uphold the constitutional value of access to the justice system. The author argues, through doctrinal, theoretical and case study analysis, that increasing access-to-justice necessarily entails taking positive steps to create access to the courts, rather than relying solely upon the inherent limitations of judicial pronouncements and doctrine. Further, the author suggests that this multi-faceted approach would encourage lawyers to empower communities, demystify the law and contribute to the institutionalization of access-to-justice.

Keywords: access to justice, rights and remedies, Court Challenges Program, access to courts

Suggested Citation

Bhabha, Faisal, Institutionalizing Access-to-Justice: Judicial, Legislative and Grassroots Dimensions (2007). Queen's Law Journal, Vol. 33, p. 139, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Faisal Bhabha (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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