European Union Country Profiles on Access to Justice

The debate over access to justice isn’t only on the agenda here in Canada (see the recent posts entitled CBA’s Map to Equal Justice and CBA Access to Justice Report Is More Pie-in-the-Sky).

In 2011, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) produced a series of 27 Country thematic studies on access to justice:

“The national thematic studies constituted the background information drawn on by the FRA in order to compile its comparative report on ‘Access to justice in Europe: an overview of challenges and opportunities’. The summaries provide further details on the national situation in the selected areas covered by the comparative report. “

Each country profile describes the following elements:

  • the national court system
  • restrictions regarding access
  • length of proceedings
  • the existence or not of mechanisms for the speedy resolution of particular cases
  • access to non-judicial procedures
  • legal aid
  • forms of satisfaction available to the winning party
  • adequacy of compensation
  • legal costs
  • rules on burden of proof

The overall comparative report can be found on the FRA website. It concluded that people in the European Union member countries were often unable to enforce their rights because of the familiar sounding problems related to the:

  • excessive length of proceedings;
  • high legal costs and difficulty in accessing legal aid;
  • restrictive rules on who may take a case to court; and
  • high degree of variation among Member States on the amounts of compensation awarded




  1. Access to justice like access to health care and education are issues world wide. Obviously (or may be not so obvious) there is a common thread with all of these that really can’t just be addressed in piece meal fashion. You’ve got to start with the economics of it all. Ordinary people can’t afford the fundamentals of a stable society, i.e., justice, health, education and taxes. So what’s the solution?