In the midst of a global access-to-justice crisis, Osgoode Dean Trevor Farrow will join other international access-to-justice (A2J) research leaders at a special conference on Dec. 6 to discuss the creation of a global research action plan aimed at making legal services more available to those least able to afford their spiralling cost.
The conference, titled “Building Evidence for People-Centred Access to Justice: Envisioning a Shared Research Agenda,” will take place in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and is sponsored by the Justice Data Observatory, a partnership involving the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, the American Bar Foundation and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
“I am excited and honoured to be collaborating with some of the world’s leading access-to-justice research experts and policymakers,” said Farrow. “We will explore challenging aspects of the growing global access-to-justice crisis, as well as potential data-based solutions.
“While it’s a busy time of term and there’s a lot going on,” he added, “this will also be a very important opportunity for me, as Dean, to champion and promote some of the great work that we’re doing here at Osgoode, as well as the major efforts that York University is making to address the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
Access to justice for all is part of the UN’s SDG number 16.
Participants at the event will explore opportunities for researchers, civil society actors and government representatives and policymakers from around the world to identify and address gaps in justice data and evidence with the aim of collectively advancing a shared access-to-justice research agenda through the Justice Data Observatory.
“Around the world, civil justice problems are ubiquitous,” reads a research brief for the event. “In every studied society, these problems affect every group, and they fall most heavily on marginalized groups, such as low-income communities or groups that are minoritized around their religion, ethnicity, race, sexuality, gender or disability.”
“To respond to these challenges effectively,” it adds, “we need a rigorous, evidence-based understanding of people’s and communities’ justice needs and of effective, scalable and sustainable solutions to meet those needs.”
The centrepiece panel discussion during the conference will follow a global report on access-to-justice research and data and will focus on the topic of “advancing people-centred access to justice through evidence-based policymaking.”
Alongside Farrow, who is also the chair of the Osgoode-based Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, guests on the panel will include Daniela Barba, the director of access-to-justice for the Washington, D.C.-based World Justice Project, Daniel Ricardo Cortes, director of the Justice, Security and Defense Directorate in Colombia, Maaike de Langen, a Senior Fellow at New York University, and Qudsiya Naqui, senior counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Oﬃce for Access to Justice.
It is expected that, with the OECD, World Bank and other partners, further research and reporting will follow from these upcoming discussions and initiatives.
Farrow is also a research and policy expert for the OECD’s access to justice advisory and a steering committee member for Canada’s Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, which was founded by former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin.