WHY DOES ACCESS TO JUSTICE MATTER?
- Effective access to justice services is a crucial determinant of inclusive growth, citizen well-being and sound public administration.
- The rule of law, security and justice influence economic performance, and business & investment climate.
- Countries with trusted justice systems report higher levels of GDP per capita, property protection rights and national competitiveness.
- Legal certainty, predictability and businesses’ trust in justice systems help positive investment decisions and promote competition.
IMPACT ON INCLUSIVE GROWTH AND CITIZEN WELL-BEING
- Costs of unresolved legal and justice needs are borne by citizens, business & society.
- When citizens legal needs remain unmet, this can have adverse effects on other areas of their everyday life, e.g. income, housing loss, health, or employment issues.
- Unequal access to justice further undermines equality in society, particularly as disadvantaged and vulnerable groups disproportionally experience legal hardship (e.g. family law, consumer finance).
- Unresolved legal disputes (e.g, family, racial, employment, housing) can lead to further legal, social and health-related problems and costs.
- The inability to resolve legal problems diminishes economic opportunity, reinforces the poverty trap and undermines human potential and inclusive growth.
IMPACT ON BUSINESS AND TRADE
Unresolved legal needs can have a negative knock-on effect for businesses. The most common negative impacts include:
- loss of income,
- the incurring of additional costs,
- damage to business relationships,
- loss of reputation,
- damage to employee relations.
- businesses ceasing trading.
REDUCED TRUST IN GOVERNMENT
- 50% of citizens had confidence in their justice system whilst 35% in the national Government.
- Preliminary OECD analysis suggests important relationships between the trust in justice institutions, quality of legal systems and trust in government.
- Access to the judicial system improves trust in society & public institutions by providing safeguards against misbehaviour.
- It helps ensure executive accountability, thus stimulating private sector growth in compliance with outlined regulatory frameworks.
- Evidence suggests that countries with higher levels of trust in justice tend to be perceived to have greater government accountability.
UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
Access to justice, as well as being a central element of SDG 16, is crucial to implementing many of the other SDGs:
- SDG 1&2 - Rule of law and effective access to justice mean that labour contracts and environmental standards are respected which can increase farmer incomes and productivity.
- SDG5 - Women, who often face multiple forms of discrimination, violence and sexual harassment, are particularly affected by legal exclusion.
- SDG 14&15 - Access to legal help can help communities to secure rights over common land, giving them more control over their livelihoods and greater incentives to preserve their environment.
- SDG 16 - Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.
DELIVERING ACCESS TO JUSTICE FOR ALL
The OECD seeks to better understand, track and help to improve effective access to justice for all citizens. We will do this by:
- Identifying the measurements for effective access to justice.
- Identifying good practices.
- Understanding people's legal needs and the justice pathways they take.
- Policy dialogue on the quality, responsiveness and accessibility of justice services.
- Understanding the links between access to justice and dimensions of inclusive growth (eg. health, employment).
- Conducting reviews and developing implementation support for the delivery of people focused justice services.