Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Source Publication

Access to Civil Justice (Allan C. Hutchinson ed.) Toronto, ON: Carswell, 1990.


The civil and criminal justice systems rely on a highly individualized dispute resolution process in which each litigant must both prosecute and present his or her own case with limited intervention by the court system and no direct involvement by the judiciary. Neil Brooks has noted that the adversarial system reflects the "political and economic ideology of classic English liberalism in three ways: by its emphasis upon self-interest and individual initiative; by its apparent distrust of the state; and, by the significance it attaches to the participation of the parties." Much of the current discussion of access to justice is concerned with the inequities that flow from the adversarial system along with a growing recognition that participation of parties poses particular and difficult problems. Parties with limited resources and with small or diffuse claims face the greatest difficulties, especially when they are litigating against large organizations, be they trade unions, corporations, or an arm of government.


Reproduced by permission of Thomson Reuters Canada Limited.

Also published in: International Perspectives on Civil Justice. London, UK: Sweet and Maxwell, 1990.

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