The Access to Justice Crisis in Canada at a Glance
- Only a small portion of legal problems – approximately 6.5% – ever reaches the formal justice system.
- As a result of the inaccessibility of early assistance, legal services and dispute resolution assistance, as well as the complexity and length of formal procedures, approximately 50% of people try to solve their problems on their own with no or minimal legal or authoritative non-legal assistance.
- Statistics indicate that individuals who receive legal assistance are between 17% and 1,380% more likely to receive better results than those who do not.
- In Canada, over 20% of the population take no meaningful action with respect to their legal problems, and over 65% think that nothing can be done, are uncertain about their rights, do not know what to do, think it will take too much time, cost too much money or are simply afraid.
- National ranges of legal fees are recently reported to be $13,561 – $37,229 for a civil action up to trial (2 days), $23,083 – $79,750 for a civil action up to trial (5 days), $38,296 – $124,574 for a civil action up to trial (7 days), and $12,333 – $36,750 for a civil action appeal. The length and cost of legal matters have continued to increase.
- In Ontario, legal aid funding is generally only available for individuals with a gross annual salary of less than $18,000, or for a family of 4 with a total gross annual salary of $37,000.
- Canada ranked 13th out of 29 high-income countries in 2012 – 2013 and 16th out of 23 high income countries in 2011 in the area of access to civil justice.
- Nearly 12 million Canadians will experience at least 1 legal problem in a given 3 year period. In the area of family law alone, annual averages indicate that approximately 40% of marriages will end in divorce.
- Almost 40% of people with one or more legal problem reported having other social or health related problems that they directly attributed to a justiciable problem.
Want to learn more about the Access to Justice Crisis in Canada?
Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters report: Access to Family and Civil Justice: A Roadmap for Change
- Report of the Access to Legal Services Working Group
- Website of the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters can be found here.
Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) Access to Justice Projects can be found here. Further, please see the CBA’s reports from the Envisioning Equal Justice projects:
- Access to Justice metrics
- Towards National Standards for Publicly Funded Legal Services
- Underexplored Alternatives for the Middle Class
- “Tension at the Border”: Pro Bono and Legal Aid
- Future Directions for Legal Aid Delivery
Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC): The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) Website
- Report of the Treasurer’s Advisory Group on Access to Justice Working Group – Report to Convocation February 27, 2014