UVic Access to Justice Centre for Excellence

2018/19 Plan

UVic Access to Justice Centre for Excellence

The UVic Access to Justice Centre for Excellence (“ACE”) was established by the Faculty of Law late in 2015 in response to the growing concern within the justice community about the problem of diminishing access to justice, and in the belief that there is a unique and important role that the academy can and should play in the resolution of this problem.

The idea for such a Centre was suggested in the Canadian Bar Association’s Equal Justice report of December 2013, which proposed that three Canadian law schools establish centres of excellence for access to justice research by 2030.

ACE seeks to actively engage the law school with the rest of the justice system, in particular with respect to procedural issues involving access to justice and the delivery of legal services. Within the law school it will focus on better preparing students for the challenges access to justice presents to practitioners. Outside the school it will focus on research and scholarship that addresses the access issue as experienced by both those who use the system and those who provide the services.

ACE’s 2018/19 Plan focuses primarily on the development of justice metrics. There is a rapidly growing interest in empirical research and performance measurement in justice systems around the world. Access reports and studies in recent years have emphasized the paucity of access to justice research and the poor state of metrics and data collection within Canadian civil justice systems (as well as the potential for law schools to help rectify this). Observing that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” the CBA’s Equal Justice report drew an explicit link between the system’s lack of metrics and measurement capacity, and the relative ineffectiveness of efforts over the last twenty years to enhance access to justice.

In this context ACE’s 2018/19 Plan identifies the following objectives:

  • to convene and support a multi-stakeholder BC Research Framework Working Group to advise on the development of justice metrics across justice sectors;
  • to work with other provinces to promote national justice metrics co-ordination across all Canadian jurisdictions;
  • to undertake its own research projects;
  • to establish a conceptual and informational foundation for a justice metrics framework; and
  • to build a sustainable core program to ensure ACE’s continuity.

Progress has been made on each of these fronts. The BC Research Framework Working Group held its first meeting in April and the national Justice Metrics Working Group has been established with representatives from BC, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. ACE is conducting research into the costs of family litigation and the impact of legislation on adversarial behaviour. ACE has also retained researchers to produce six major study papers intended to inform the design and development of data architecture for the BC justice system. As well, ACE has recently secured a continuing grant from the BC Law Foundation, which will help to ensure its ongoing viability.

More information is available on the ACE website at uvicace.com.