Osgoode dean to speak at international access-to-justice conference

The statue of justice

In the midst of a global access-to-justice crisis, Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Trevor Farrow will join other international research leaders in the field at a conference on Dec. 6 to discuss the creation of a global research action plan aimed at making legal services more available to those least able to afford their spiralling costs.

Trevor Farrow
Trevor Farrow

The conference, titled “Building Evidence for People-Centred Access to Justice: Envisioning a Shared Research Agenda,” will take place in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. It is sponsored by the Justice Data Observatory, a partnership involving the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, the American Bar Foundation and the International Development Research Centre.

“I am excited and honoured to be collaborating with some of the world’s leading access-to-justice research experts and policymakers,” said Farrow. “We will explore challenging aspects of the growing global access-to-justice crisis, as well as potential data-based solutions.

“While it’s a busy time of term and there’s a lot going on,” he added, “this will also be a very important opportunity for me, as dean, to champion and promote some of the great work that we’re doing here at Osgoode, as well as the major efforts that York University is making to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Access to justice for all is part of SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Participants at the event will explore opportunities for researchers, civil society actors, government representatives and policymakers around the world to identify and address gaps in justice data and evidence with the aim of collectively advancing a shared access-to-justice research agenda through the Justice Data Observatory.

The conference’s centrepiece panel discussion will follow a global report on access-to-justice research and data and will focus on the topic of “advancing people-centred access to justice through evidence-based policymaking.”

Alongside Farrow, guests on the panel will include: Daniela Barba, director of access-to-justice for the Washington, D.C.-based World Justice Project; Daniel Ricardo Cortes, director of the Justice, Security and Defense Directorate in Colombia; Maaike de Langen, a senior Fellow at New York University; and Qudsiya Naqui, senior counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice.

Beyond his role as dean of Osgoode, Farrow is also Chair of the Osgoode-based Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, a research and policy expert for the OECD’s access to justice advisory committee, and a steering committee member for Canada’s Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, which was founded by former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin.

It is expected that, with the OECD, World Bank and other partners, further access-to-justice research and reporting will follow from these discussions and initiatives.