Resource: ‘ “Sense of access to justice” as a framework for civil procedure justice reform: an empirical assessment of judicial settlement conferences in Quebec (Canada)’, by J.F. Roberge

An emerging worldwide civil procedure justice reform trend takes the user’s point of view into account in order to promote access-to-justice and support for the rule of law. In the Canadian context, the Quebec civil law province has taken the lead to renew its legal culture towards a participatory justice, rooted in fair-minded processes that encourage the persons involved to play an active role. In an effort to monitor such ambitions, carried by the civil procedure code reforms of 2003 and 2014, our paper offers an empirical evaluation through the lens of litigant’s “Sense of Access to Justice” (“SAJ”). We empirically tested this framework in settlement conferences conducted by Quebec trial court judges practicing under a facilitative integrative problem-solving approach. The results herein show that settlement conferences are evaluated by litigants and lawyers as fair-minded processes, providing them with a sense of access to justice. This study provides a new framework and methodology to monitor the civil procedure justice reform and legal cultural shifts taking place in Quebec. Adaptations to other dispute resolution mechanisms and various jurisdictions seem promising. This study helps ascertain user’s views, determining whether they are in support of public policies, private policies, or actions in response to the access-to-justice challenge. (Abstract)


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