The University of Victoria Faculty of Law is pleased to announce that it is establishing the Access to Justice Centre for Excellence (the “Centre”) operating out of the UVic Faculty of Law.
The Centre is being established in response to the growing concern within the justice community with the problem of diminishing access to justice. We believe that there is a unique role that the academy can and should play in working toward a resolution of this problem.
The idea for the Centre arose out of the Canadian Bar Association’s Equal Justice report of December, 2013 which proposed that by 2030 three Canadian law schools establish centres of excellence for access to justice research.
The research work of the Centre will contribute to our understanding of the barriers that Canadians experience in accessing justice as well as potential innovations for overcoming those barriers. For example, it will contribute to the understanding of how legal problems are intertwined with and embedded in layers of social, personal, economic and health problems. To be an effective and leading contributor in access to justice research, ACE must undertake this initial outreach and organization work. The long term benefits of the Centre reach beyond the collection and analysis of data and work towards better public policy; enriched public discourse; improved access to legal information and education; integration of social, health and legal services for civil and criminal matters; and the improvement of alternative dispute resolution processes.
The UVic Centre will seek to provide provincial and national leadership in research and teaching related to access to justice. The Centre will:
- undertake applied research and practical scholarship on access to justice issues,
- through curriculum and program development, enhance student understanding, skills and abilities respecting access issues,
- forge external working relationships with governmental, non-governmental and professional bodies working on the access issue,
- as a priority, but not an exclusive focus, pursue this mandate with an emphasis on social justice, community engagement and the unmet legal needs of marginalized populations.
Given the growing severity of the access problem and the very costly and destructive consequences that flow from unmet legal need in our communities, the Centre will seek to support a justice reform culture that is bold, innovative and open to experimentation. The Centre will focus on activities that UVic is uniquely qualified to undertake. These activities will include academic and applied research as well as enhanced student learning and experience.