Crisis and Creativity: Shifting the Culture of Justice

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(2021) 102 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 329-354


This paper discusses two fundamental barriers in the way of further improving access to justice. Of all the access to justice recommendations developed over the past decades, the need for a culture shift in justice has increasingly been identified as a necessary precondition to meaningful change. Without a fundamental shift in approach to understanding and improving access to justice, significant improvements will not occur. This paper explores two elements of this justice culture discussion -- barriers to real improvement -- that have reached new levels of importance. First, up until now, it is possible that the access to justice problem has not been obvious enough. Put differently, although our understanding of everyday legal needs has improved, the problem of access to justice has not been adequately understood either as an integral part of society's everyday crises (gender violence, climate change, systemic racism, and the like), or as a crisis for the justice system itself. Second, perhaps because of the first, we have not been able or willing seriously to entertain the idea that true innovation in the form of revolutionary creativity -- colouring outside the lines as opposed to tinkering within the margins -- is essential for meaningful change, particularly given the timelines and urgency set out in the comprehensive access to justice agenda included in the United Nation's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

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