Pioneer of the Justiciable Problems Approach to Access to Justice in Canada Moving to the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice
Ab Currie, currently Chief Research Advisor and Principal Researcher: Legal Aid and Access to Justice, in the Federal Department of Justice, is leaving the Government of Canada to join the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) as the Senior Research Fellow. CFCJ is Canada’s leading non-governmental independent think tank devoted to research and policy development on access to civil justice and civil justice reform. Dr. Currie will also hold a visiting appointment at the Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, where CFCJ is currently housed. He will be fully engaged at the CFCJ by April 1, 2013.
Ab Currie, originally trained as a demographer, has been a key player in major research initiatives by Justice Canada on legal aid and access to justice across the country for more than two decades. He has also collaborated internationally with researchers around the world. In recent years, he has been hugely influential in developing justiciable problems research in Canada. Justiciable problems are basically problems ordinary people have that have a legal dimension and in theory are resolvable through the justice system. In the United Kingdom, academics Hazel Genn and others have used research about justiciable problems to reorient how access to justice policy is developed, making it more focused the paths to justice available to users for resolving their problems. In a series of major studies he conducted in Canada, Dr. Currie discovered that over a three year span, 50% of Canadians have at least one justiciable problem and that for many Canadians justiciable problems cluster together and have a cascading effect. Moreover, there are very different rates of resolution as well as ways to resolve these justiciable problems, depending on the nature of the problem and its relationship to other justiciable problems.
At the CFCJ, Ab Currie will develop further this pioneering work on justiciable problems and its insights for access to justice in Canada. The paths to justice are diverse and the justiciable problems approach offers a way to better understanding the significance of self-help, legal information, and phenomena such as the increase of self-represented litigants. His presence at the CFCJ will ensure that it continues to be a leading pan-Canadian vehicle for research and innovative thinking about access to civil justice issues in Canada.
Les Jacobs, Executive Director, Canadian Forum on Civil Justice