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Access to Justice – Tools for Tribunal Leaders

Home / Access to Justice – Tools for Tribunal Leaders

Tribunals in Canada have an access to justice problem. While the pandemic triggered a rapid shift towards greater use of technology and process simplification, there are significant and long-standing obstacles that make it hard for ordinary people to access administrative justice.  This online repository provides information for leaders in the administrative justice community who are motivated and interested in finding solutions to real-life problems and implementing practical measures to improve access to justice.

Self–Represented Parties

Access to Justice Committee
National Survey of Tribunal Responsiveness to Self- Represented Parties
Measuring Access to Justice for Canadian Administrative Tribunals

“We are in an era where appearing without legal representation in tribunal settings is often the norm rather than the exception. As such, the ability of tribunals to serve as an effective, accessible forum for self-represented parties is an area of evolving concern.  In 2006, the Canadian Judicial Council adopted the ‘Statement of Principles on Self-Represented Litigants and Accused Persons’, which articulated the responsibilities of participants in the justice system and principles for promoting rights of access and equal justice.

This initiated interest in the justice system’s responsiveness to self-represented parties and became a prime area of focus for the Access to Justice Committee of CCAT.

The Access to Justice Committee conducted from November 2014 to January 2015 a national survey of over 250 administrative tribunals across the country on tribunal responsiveness to self-represented parties. To access the results of this survey please click on PDF report.

A reference copy of the survey questions is also available


Self Represented Parties – Checklist

As more parties are self-represented before tribunals, the greater the importance of factors such as a tribunal’s cultural competencies, communication capacities, referral systems, and accommodation abilities.

CCAT is pleased to present the Self-Represented Parties – an Informal Checklist for Tribunals, prepared by its Access to Justice Committee (AJC). Recognizing that tribunals operate within a range of contexts with differing priorities and demands, this checklist is intended as a flexible reference, reflecting a variety of potential best practices in relation to self-represented parties. This is an evolving document, subject to ongoing input and updates. We hope that you will find it useful.

The mandate of the AJC is to find ways to improve access to justice within the administrative tribunal community in Canada. The committee consists of volunteers drawn from CCAT members across the nation.

The AJC organized a half-day program, focussed on the issue of self-representation, to coincide with the 2012 CCAT conference in Calgary, Alberta. A panel consisting of Mr. Rick Craig, Executive Director of the BC Justice Education Society, who spoke on various ways of improving access to justice for self-represented litigants, and Tribunal counterparts from across Canada, who spoke about the types of initiatives they have taken to facilitate the participation of self-represented parties, raised the awareness of Access to Justice issues with the audience.

Following the panel, the AJC organized a workshop in which conference participants discussed the creation of a checklist for the use of tribunals across Canada to guide them in the pursuit of access to justice measures. The results of this half-day exercise formed the basis of the checklist.

While the checklist does not purport to be complete, it is based on the experience of many individuals who work in the administrative justice community. It is designed to be used by tribunals, as a starting point for a check-up on their existing business practices. The AJC hopes that this tool can raise awareness and improve the service offered by tribunals.

We would very much appreciate hearing about your experience in using the checklist and receiving your comments and suggestions. Please contact info@ccat-ctac.org if you would like to communicate with us.

1Committee members: Chair: Lilian Ma; Marilyn McNamara, Gaétan Cousineau, Gary Yee, Linda Lamoureux, Philippe Bouvier, Danielle Dumont, Gerald Heckman, Athanasios Hadjis, Terry Sargeant and Taivi Lobu.
2Panel: Rick Craig, Gary Yee, Philippe Bouvier, Taivi Lobu, Josée Turcotte, Carolyn McCool and Andrea Smillie; Moderator: Lilian Ma.
3Workshop: co-chairs: Marilyn McNamara and Gaétan Cousineau; Presenter: Athanasios Hadjis; Facilitators: Taivi Lobu, Josée Turcotte, Louanne Labelle and Gaétan Cousineau.

How do I bring user-centred design to my tribunal: Shannon Salter, Chair, Civil Resolution Tribunal (British Columbia)

Click HERE to access the presentation document.

How do I create a systematic approach to quality in adjudication?: Richard Wex, Chairperson, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

Click HERE to access the presentation document.

How do I implement proactive and proportionate systems to manage and resolve cases?: Michelle Alton, General Counsel, Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (Ontario)

Click HERE to access the presentation document.

How do I find out what users and stakeholders really think about my tribunal’s services?: Emily Drown, Chair of the British Columbia Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal

Click HERE to access the presentation document.

How do I use data and measurement to improve access to justice?: Paul Aterman, Chairperson, Social Security Tribunal of Canada

Click HERE to access the presentation document.