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Co-Chair
Jane Anderson

Co-Chair
Heike Loercher

Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee

The Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee aims to gather information from around the world on the barriers to access to justice in each jurisdiction and any ways in which these barriers are overcome, with specific emphasis on statutory schemes such as legal aid, publicising its findings with reports and events with a view to sharing and spreading good practice.

About the Committee

The Committee seeks to gather information from around the world on the barriers to access to justice in each jurisdiction and any ways in which these barriers are overcome, with particular emphasis on statutory schemes such as legal aid.

The Committee will publicise its findings through reports and events with a view to sharing and spreading good practice. The Committee recognises that many of those who will most benefit from its work will be unable to attend international events and so will provide all information through its website.

The Committee will serve as a central coordinating point within the IBA, where all matters relating to access to justice and legal aid (given the fact that, this is a topic that overlaps with diverse other Committees of the Association) will be handled.

The Committee will work with other committees and parts of the Association in developing joint activities and projects on access to justice and legal aid.

One of the great strengths of the IBA is its global reach, and this is something that we feel will help us in the ambitious task we have set ourselves; sharing and spreading good practice on access to justice around the world. Expectations, definitions and resources vary wildly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the concept of justice exists everywhere. We believe that the differing approaches to seeking access to justice could provide a valuable source of ideas and information for jurisdictions struggling to maintain or improve access to justice in times of austerity.

Forthcoming conferences and webinars View All Conferences

News, Projects and Publications

A tool for justice - the cost benefit analysis of legal aid - September 2019

A report by the IBA Access to Justice Committee and the World Bank: Two-thirds of the world’s population lack meaningful access to justice. Cost benefit analyses from around the world suggest that the benefits of legal aid and related services significantly outweigh their costs. This report surveys around 50 cost and benefit studies of past and proposed legal aid programs and provides guidance on how to conduct one’s own cost benefit analysis of a legal aid program.


Documents circulated at the International Conference on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, Tbilisi, 11-13 November 2018 


Legal Expenses Insurance and Access to Justice

A report by the IBA’s Legal Policy & Research Unit and the Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee: Legal Expenses Insurance and Access to Justice. This report presents a cross-jurisdictional analysis of nine jurisdictions where legal expenses insurance – a potential mechanism to increase access to justice for the “forgotten middle” – is available to individuals, and explores barriers to the greater implementation, uptake and use of LEI in the case study jurisdictions where the LEI market is limited.

Ombudsman schemes and effective access to justice: A study of international practices and trends - October 2018

This report examines the broad range of ombudsman models used worldwide to bridge the gaps created by formal, expensive and lengthy dispute resolution processes.

It explores how ombudsman services have become a significant feature of legal systems across many jurisdictions, developing from a constitutional accountability tool to an independent complaints mechanism widely used in the private sector.

Focusing on ombudsman offices whose mandate has a strong link with economic and social rights, the report includes analysis of good practice; the role of ombudsman bodies in dealing with corruption; schemes in the financial services, consumer and telecom sectors; the funding and legal restrictions faced by these services; and issues relating to digitalisation.

The report was written for the IBA by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law.


OIBA Guidelines on Legal Aid Principles on Civil, Administrative and Family Justice Systems and its Commentary- May 2019

This report examines the broad range of ombudsman models used worldwide to bridge the gaps created by formal, expensive and lengthy dispute resolution processes.

It explores how ombudsman services have become a significant feature of legal systems across many jurisdictions, developing from a constitutional accountability tool to an independent complaints mechanism widely used in the private sector.

Focusing on ombudsman offices whose mandate has a strong link with economic and social rights, the report includes analysis of good practice; the role of ombudsman bodies in dealing with corruption; schemes in the financial services, consumer and telecom sectors; the funding and legal restrictions faced by these services; and issues relating to digitalisation.

The report was written for the IBA by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law.


Access to justice for persons with disabilities: From international principles to practice - October 2017

Committee Co-Chair Andrew Mackenzie presented the committee's report on access to justice for persons with disabilities at the 2019 Zero Project conference in February 2019. The UN-linked Zero Project focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally and shares the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that they face.

The report aims to identify barriers to access to justice for persons with disabilities; gather examples of solutions used to overcome those barriers; and provide insight into how examples of good practice may be transferable internationally to inform access to justice practices.


Children and Access to Justice: National Practices, International Challenges

October 2016. This report by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law examines barriers and challenges to access to justice for children and the ways those are overcome in different jurisdictions. Authored by Julinda Beqiraj and Lawrence McNamara, the report draws together strategies and solutions, and provides insights into how examples of good practice may be transferable internationally. The analysis includes previously unpublished data from a Council of Europe survey covering 48 European states and entities.

Building on the framework set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and taking into account the UN's Sustainability Development Agenda, the report features an extensive desk-based review and an analysis of the systemic barriers and solutions within the operation of criminal, civil and administrative justice systems.

It concludes that the rights of children to be actively engaged in decisions affecting them still poses a challenge. The report also suggests the important role played by independent redress mechanisms and notes recent progress towards recognition of the special needs of children when they encounter the justice system.


Children and Access to Justice in the Agenda for Sustainable Development

May 2016. This briefing paper by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law examines how the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda can help tackle child poverty by improving access to justice and the economic and social wellbeing of children.

Child poverty is a universal challenge. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 247 million children are deprived of their basic rights, while poverty also affects one in four children in the world’s richest countries. Child poverty is not just about lack of economic resources; it also involves, for example, access to food, health services, clean water, education and protection.

Access to justice is at the core of guaranteeing children’s rights, but legal systems often make it difficult or impossible for children to obtain redress for rights violations. The UN Sustainable Development Goals – particularly Goal 16 – have the potential to make an important contribution to eradicating child poverty and ensuring children are better assisted and protected by justice systems and the rule of law.

This paper illustrates how lawyers involved in advocacy, law reform, drafting of new legislation, legal education and providing legal assistance and representation have a huge opportunity to support and contribute to the empowerment of children out of poverty cycles.


Legal Aid in Criminal Cases and Redress for Victims of Violence

October 2015. The IBA’s Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee is pleased to publish its 2015 project:

'International Access to Justice: Legal Aid in Criminal Cases and Redress for Victims of Violence'

Working once again with the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, the study builds on the Committee’s ‘International Access to Justice: Barriers and Solutions’ report which was launched at the IBA’s 2014 Tokyo Conference. (see below)

The 2015 project aims to gain an understanding of the availability and effectiveness across jurisdictions of legal aid for those charged with violent crimes and of redress mechanisms for victims of violence.

The project is funded by a grant from the IBA’s PPID committee. The project has also engaged other parts of the PPID (in particular the BIC, HRI, and the LPD Criminal Law Committee).



International Access to Justice: Barriers and Solutions

In October 2014 the IBA Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee commissioned its first research project.

The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law conducted the research and wrote the report with contributions and comments from the Committee. The report, ‘International Access to Justice: Barriers and Solutions’, was launched at the 2014 IBA Conference in Tokyo. The report explores obstacles to access to justice across jurisdictions and practices which have sought to overcome these barriers.

The research team and the Committee conducted an international survey through IBA networks to examine the extent to which individuals and groups in different countries are able to use formal and informal justice systems, legal services and dispute resolution mechanisms to solve their justice problems and explore how different barriers affect different groups of the population and whether they are more relevant in certain sectors of justice systems.

The project’s ultimate objective was to provide evidence that can inform the design of reforms and programs that address key problems and complement existing efforts to overcome barriers to access to justice.

The mutually supportive link between access to justice issues, on the one hand, and economic and social development, on the other, makes this study of great interest to countries that have undertaken or are in the process of undertaking justice sector reforms.


Subcommittees and other groups

The Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee also coordinates the activities of the following subcommittees/working groups.

  • Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee Advisory Board