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Access To Justice (Part 2)

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One can only imagine how differently the wheels of justice would have turned if there was no regional court for Caribbean nationals to make use of. Only having the option to go to appellate courts that one may or may not be able to access based on their various situations would have garnered less than satisfactory results. Even if all the above mentioned parties in the preceding cases could afford to bring their disputes to the Privy Council, those in charge of the ruling would theoretically be less equipped to give the case the proper ethical and cultural treatment necessary. One might wonder, for example, how the court proceedings for dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel would have been handled if the CCJ were to give the final ruling on his case.

 

Adam Ziegler, a director of the Caselaw Access Project in the United States, stated that “A core part of access to justice is public access to the law itself, but it is also important that lawyers can access the law efficiently, so price does not become a barrier to lawyers serving the underprivileged and under-resourced in society.”  Yet, “…poor communities are distrustful, unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the formal legal system.” The United Nations Development Program website page on Jamaica states that the country’s debt to GDP ratio is one of the highest in the world and that Jamaican citizens grapple with high levels of crime, poverty and unemployment. Existing in the Caribbean region and having to go to the Privy Council is simply a luxury that many of the 2.7 million citizens cannot afford and/or will have difficulty affording. It is in this way that the efficiency of the rule of law breaks down and becomes a barrier to the people it was created to protect.

This is where technology would create a viable alternative, as having a mobile appellate court that employs up-to-date conferencing technology would give more under-privileged people an avenue by which to access the law meant to serve them. Two difficulties were outlined respectively, however, as Lord Goldsmith projected that a justice gap would be formed since some people would not be able to afford technologically enhanced services and Lucy Scott-Moncrieff impressed the reality that unspecialized access to information did not guarantee proper use of it. In the context of the Jamaican (and wider Caribbean) native, there could potentially be room for better and easier access to justice if the resources were pooled in towards that collective aim. One had to initially expect a justice gap, but the vision is that this could be lessened or eroded with time. With easier access, specialization would then become more lucrative and varied as interest and resources were accumulated by successive generations of lawyer, non-lawyers, ALSPs, and other players in the field.

Conclusively, true access to justice could be described a situation where “…a potential litigant can easily find legal information about her rights, apply for legal aid electronically, talk to a legal aid attorney over her tablet…and communicate over the internet with a lawyer…if her case becomes complicated.”

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