Access to Justice 

  • Network

Access to Justice matters in the most diverse structures and relations

The Network focuses not only on formal legal rights but also on informal structures, the role of discretionary power, not codified traditions and practices etc.

Members of the Access to Justice Network are researchers or practitioners who from very different perspectives and experiences see Access to Justice as playing a role for individuals or groups in the caretaking of their rights or interests. We represent a wide spread educational background and experience and a large number of European jurisdictions.

Up to this point we are organized in six thematic working groups. By following the links you find a short introduction to the focal topics of each group, name and contact information of the contact person for each group and the names of the members of the groups.

Join the network

This is a working network so in order to join the Access to Justice Network you need to register for participation in one or more groups.

We welcome researchers and practitioners from jurisdictions all over Europe. Access to justice should play a role for you as professional researcher or practitioner.

Actors, gatekeepers and facilitators

Access to Justice is not something given or taken. Several professionals and other actors work in a wide range of organizations in order to facilitate the access to justice, or do prioritizations and selections for people and between people. We will study the role and practice of central actors in central organizations. It concerns lawyers and other legal professions as well social workers and other professionals in the public sector, but also actors in non-governmental organizations that aim to facilitate access to justice through their paid or unpaid work. All these actors have important roles as gatekeepers for access to justice. Our aim is to better understand their practices as well as how, and on what grounds, their practices and roles are formed.

Members:

Contact person:

Dr. Kerstin Svensson, Professor at the School of Social Work, Lund University, Sweden.
E-mail: kerstin.svensson@soch.lu.se

Non-court based conflict resolution

We will focus on non-court based conflict resolution, which is often called Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Concepts of ADR need to be uncovered and understood in-depth in order to analyze whether ADR leads to a strengthening of access to justice or the opposite. We will include a critical consideration of the concept of ‘alternative’, exploring what ADR is an ‘alternative’ to, and if/when such models are used more routinely as the norm for dispute resolution.  Different types of conflicts and different ADR-models and concepts will be explored. Both experienced practitioners and researchers will be involved in carrying out this task.

Members:

Contact person:

Dr. Anette Storgaard, Professor at the Department of Law, Aarhus University, Denmark.
E-mail: 
as@law.au.dk

Legal aid and other means

Access to Justice is not a clear and unequivocal term. However, Legal Aid is considered to be an important element in securing Access to Justice. Often information and guidance is necessary for obtaining knowledge of one´s legal position. And when it comes to securing one´s rights – if need be through the Courts or tribunals – one might also need help or assistance from legal professionals. Research has established a widespread need for Legal Aid, and that there is often an unmet need for such provision.  A barrier for Access to Justice is that even though the legislation might stipulate that Legal Aid is (to some degree) a “right”, nobody is obliged to provide it – for instance most legal aid is based on free and voluntary work. Legal Aid is not the only way to secure Access to Justice. There might also be other means of getting Access to Justice, for instance schemes for free legal aid in regard to lawsuits and legal proceedings and digital self-service-schemes.

We will study the connection between Access to Justice and Legal Aid, and the legal and institutional framework for its provision and key actors in the field. We will also explore other means to secure Access to Justice besides Legal Aid.

Members:

Contact person:

Dr. Bettina Lemann Kristiansen, Professor at the Department of Law, Aarhus University, Denmark
E-mail:
blk@law.au.dk

Corruption

Corruption has many faces and occurs in the most different relations. We address corruption broadly from its most obvious forms like bribes to its blurred and nontransparent forms like using informal networks or returning favours in order to obtain privileges of all sorts.

The group addresses aspects closely related to formal justice such as the court system and administrative decision-making as well as the uncovering of causes for and consequences of corruption in societal matters that are not closely linked to formal judicial decision-making but still may influence on access to justice for individuals or groups. Of course, we also explore experiences in how corruption is defeated.

Members:

Contact person:

Dr. Karin Hilmer Pedersen, Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Denmark.  
E-mail:
khp@ps.au.dk

People with convictions and resettlement

Like others who have a precarious citizenship status, including refugees and children, those who have been convicted by the criminal justice system often have (had) little access to justice (or welfare) themselves. We are especially interested in access to justice over the life-course, access to justice within prison and access to justice upon release for this population. We intend to examine both the obstacles that are in place and possible ways forward, not just in terms of access to the courts, but also in terms of wider participation and citizenship.

Members:

Contact person:

Dr. Marguerite Schinkel, Lecturer at the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow, Scotland. 
E-mail:
Marguerite.Schinkel@glasgow.ac.uk

Children and Young people and Access to Justice

The position of children and young people in relation to Access to Justice requires particular consideration. International instruments advocate that a child’s best interests should be the primary consideration in any action that affects them and that children should be provided meaningful opportunities to participate in legal and administrative proceedings.

This includes ensuring that a child has a right to be heard and that their views are given due weight and that they receive age-appropriate information to enable them to effectively participate in proceedings. 

Furthermore state parties have a responsibility to ensure that children are adequately protected and that their right to privacy is respected. How children and young people experience Access to Justice, and how their rights impact on this area and are realised in practice are issues, which this group will consider.

Members:

Contact person:

Dr. Nicola Carr, Associate Professor at the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, England.
E-mail:
Nicola.Carr@nottingham.ac.uk

Refugees and migrants

Refugees and migrants often face particular barriers in accessing justice.

Due to their precarious citizenship people in these situations have less access to justice (or welfare). Many live far from justice institutions and legal aid providers and may not have the legal knowledge and financial capacity to demand their rights. Many are traumatised, disoriented, physically and emotionally vulnerable. 

We are especially interested in the restrictions to the right to legal aid for refugees and immigrants due to the socio-economic crisis in Europe. We intend to examine the difficulties to access to justice when these vulnerable groups are victims of crimes, e.g. domestic violence or human trafficking.

Members:

Contact person:

Anabel Cerezo
University of Malaga
E-mail:
aicerezo@uma.es

Main contact persons