Accessing Justice : Beyond Barriers

The annual Isaac Pitblado Lectures are coming up in a couple of days and will focus attention this year on issues in access to justice. The agenda is filled with thought-provoking and intelligent discussions led by some very smart people on how we move forward on these issues.

The Honourable Mr. Justice Thomas Cromwell will open the Lectures on Friday, speaking about the culture shift that is necessary if the legal profession is to get a handle on ensuring access to adjudication of disputes through the courts. He’s followed on the agenda by Professor Trevor Farrow talking about the decision in Hryniak and addressing how we can incorporate the need for a culture shift and proportionality without jettisoning due process. The balance of Friday’s agenda deals with access to justice initiatives ongoing in Manitoba and elsewhere.

Saturday opens with a keynote by Professor Richard Devlin with the provocative title of Puttin’ Up or Shuttin’ Up. He will address some of the ethical issues around moving forward on access to justice. Dr. Melina Buckley rounds out the program with a discussion of practical action steps for closing the gaps and moving past the barriers identified.

Numerous Manitoba judges, lawyers and members of the community at large are also on the program, providing a snapshot of where we’re at and how far we’ve yet to go in removing barriers to accessing legal services and supports in Manitoba.

Unfortunately, unless you’ve already registered, you won’t be able to attend as this year’s event is sold out. I’ll try to tweet out some of the content using #Pitblado2014. Stay tuned.


  1. I hope some of the discussion will focus on other parts of the justice system than the courts, the threshold of which a small minority of Canadians will ever step across, however cheap or ‘accessible’ they may be.

    But think of justice as being provided by law, so creating accessible laws is part of improving access to justice. One can get a lot more bang for the taxpayers’ buck by eliminating archaic or ambiguous legal rules (that may require expensive legal opinions to handle), by making the default rules fair according to modern standards, by ensuring that communications for official purposes are conducted in plain language (by doing it, not by legislating some ‘plain language’ requirement) – all of which can be done without creating new agencies or administrative empires – than one can by any number of ADR schemes or technology applications or exhortations to lawyers to work pro bono.

    Facilitate justice through private ordering. There’s an A2J program with some impact.