An International Perspective on Access to Justice Strategies

A 22,000 Mile High View of Access to Justice.

In the US, we like to think of access to justice innovators as broad overview thinkers.  But, from Hiil in the Netherlands, comes a reminder that we too are grounded in our particular culture and obviously available options.  At, the Report titled Strategies for Basic Justice Care for Everyone, tries to generate a world overview of ways that justice can be provided for all.

In overview:

Our Trend Report shows how 10 problems are responsible for most of the injustice experienced by individuals. In many places, less than half of these problems are solved in a fair way. When best practices are used, solving over 70% is possible. Globally, the estimated “access to justice” gap consists of 200 million unsolved problems. Each year. That is a lot of injustice. (at page 3)

The strategies for Basic Justice Care:

1. Legal Information Targeted on Needs of Disputants

2. Facilitators and Paralegals Working Towards Fair Solutions

3. Sharing Practices, Evidence Based Protocols

4. Choice of Third Party Adjudication Processes

5. IT Platforms Supporting Negotiation and Litigation

The Strategies for Courts and Judges (“Putting people first”):

Open up

Focus on fair solutions that work for the people

Work evidence based

Specialise and offer choice

Be rewarded for solutions and well monitored

For Innovators — I have pasted in the whole section:

Keep pushing the envelope
For some the urge to change things is born of anger and frustration about traditional thinking and its lack of results. For others it starts with an idea, born out of curiosity and a professional ‘what if’ question. Whatever your motive, it can’t be strong enough. People who want to change the world are always met by the sceptics, the traditionalists, the ones who benefit from the existing situation. It is not enough to come up with innovative solutions to court procedures, mediation or a slow, lawmaking process. The hard part is getting people to embrace those innovations. To get them to make it really work, to scale it up, to elevate it to common practice. Pursuing change is the hardest road to travel. But it can be done, especially when you’re not alone on your journey. Innovators are likely to become even more successful if they:
Strengthen what is available
For every type of dispute, there are already ways in which people talk, negotiate and work towards decisions. The most promising innovations strengthen these processes.
Are ready for scaling up
If an innovation depends on continued external funding, or can only work in a very specific setting, it is less likely to have a lasting impact. Every innovation needs a good “business case.” For the clients and for every person in the supply chain, the value proposition needs to be clear. All services need a revenue stream that matches costs. Innovative services in the justice sector are no exception to that.
Succeed in bringing the defendant to the table
Access to justice is most needed when one party is in dire need of a solution, while the other party hesitates to listen, to give in, to pay or to take a particular action. Successful innovations reach out to the defendants, making it safe, secure and necessary for them to cooperate. If they do not cooperate, they should be worse off.
Ask for integration in court procedures
Courts solve this “submission problem.” They give an enforceable decision even if the defendant does not cooperate and do this in the name of the state. This gives them a privileged position, which makes it hard to compete with them. Courts should be urged that they try, test and buy the best available methods for solving the most urgent conflicts.
Demand a level playing field
Many innovators in, around and outside courts, can make a strong case that they solve disputes faster, more effectively and/or more fairly than happens in existing procedures. It is not unreasonable for those innovators to claim access to similar resources. Existing court interventions and innovative procedures should be evaluated according to the same, independent standards, based on what works best to solve problems for people.

There are also strategies listed for social investors, law professors and policy makers.

I encourage folks to read this, and assess our own state of play against this global perspective.  These generalizations can reinforce some of our strategies (legal information) and underline how far behind we are in others (non-lawyer roles).

P.S. Thanks to Bonnie Hough for bringing this to my attention.


About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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