Posts filed under ‘Access to Justice’
Nepalese legal aid lawyers recognized as important for democracy, rule of law, ending impunity and strengthening the criminal law system
At the end of 2016 the president of Nepal, Bidya Devi Bhandari, as well as the prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, attended a conference dedicated to the work of the country’s legal aid lawyers. The speeches recognize the critical value of the government funded lawyers for the safeguarding of the fundamental human rights and fair and effective criminal justice system.
More details about the conference are available here.
The Law Society of Scotland published a short video which provides easy to understand information about the role of the solicitor in the conveyancing process. It is a good example for effective use of available and relatively cheap technology for legal empowerment of the people.
- Case law of courts and tribunals
- Records from private and public providers of justice services (lawyers, legal aid organisations, self-help web sites etc., online dispute resolution schemes)
- Meta-data from courts and other agencies that dispense civil justice (public registries, notaries public, enforcement agents, bailiffs, police, public authorities that deal with disputes and grievances)
- Records and users’ reviews from e-commerce sites,
- Data from complaint departments
- Social media
- Credit ratings
- Data generated by “internet of things” devices
- Traffic data from internet and telecom providers
- Identify gaps in the supply and demand for justice
- Understand better the needs of the users of justice
- Deliver justice services that better fit the needs of individuals and communities
- Better prevention and resolution of disputes
- Diagnose and triage of dispute resolution
- Turn the vast world of unstructured justice data into knowledge
- Innovate justice
Recent report (original only in Portugese) of the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers warns about worsening access to justice situation in the country. Three problem areas are noted:
– Increasing costs of access to justice
– Many people do not qualify for legal aid
– Fragmentation of responsibility for the delivery of legal aid.
The rapporteur does not point to any specific policy changes but stresses on the need for broader dialogue between the main stakeholders in the Portuguese justice system:
“There must be a continuous dialogue between the government, judges, prosecutors, lawyers and representatives of civil society to ensure that the reforms bring the desired changes and increase the effectiveness of the justice system.”
“Neighborhood social cohesion is the perceived degree of connectedness between and among neighbours and their willingness to intervene for the common good.”
Ethiopia has a population of almost 90 million people and spans over a vast territory in Eastern Africa. Although being one of the poorest countries in the world Ethiopia aspires to reform its legal system. Its leaders embrace modern managerial approaches such as Balanced scorecards and Business process re-engineering. The country is also a good example in smart computerization of courts as well as other justice sector institutions.
There are many challenges, however. Adem Kasse, senior researcher at the institute of International Peace and Rule of Law of the Max Planck Foundation at the University of Heidlberg reviews some of them. Slow and unpredictable court procedures clearly violate the right to timely access to justice. Another is the lack of mechanisms to guarantee access to justice in administrative cases. Kasse points to the influence of the administrative agencies on the lives of many people in Ethiopia:
“Administrative bodies give directives and make decisions that affect millions of people every day.”
Many aspects of the work of the administrative agencies are governed not by the law but by institutional culture. These practices often fall outside the formal remedies that guarantee that the executive agencies abide to the rule of law. In Ethiopia the institution of the Ombudsman is getting established but it is still far away from being an effective remedy in all cases in which the citizens and organizations are in a conflict with administrative agencies. As Kasse points out there is no baseline study to assess the depth and impact of the problems with access to justice in these cases.
Read more about about access to justice in Ethiopia here
Malaysian law firm Bon Advocates prepares to develop mobile app for legal documents. It aims to help the users with basic documents such as sales and purchase agreements, wills, divorce petitions and bail applications. Next year the DIY law app should be ready for the public.
The legal profession, however, is concerned. “I think it’s a bit reckless, if you don’t know your rights, and you start doing these things on your own because you won’t know the implications and ramifications” said Ragunath Kesavan from the Bar Council.
A criminal lawyer is worried about lay people’s understanding of the various offences and procedural intricacies: “A lay person will not be able to appreciate the distinctions. Even some lawyers get such distinctions mixed up. And in pleading guilty and doing mitigation, does a layperson know the legal consequences of pleading guilty? Would a layperson know what is the sentencing pattern of a particular offence?”
Read more about the Malaysian access to justice app and the controversies around it here.