Canadian Civil Justice: Relief in Small and Simple Matters in an Age of Efficiency
13 Pages Posted: 5 May 2016
Date Written: April 28, 2016
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.
Keywords: Canada, small and simple matters, austerity, civil justice, access to justice
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