Access to Justice for Children

You are viewing this website in English. However, if you wish to view it in a different language please select one from the drop-down menu

Access to Justice

‘Access to justice’ as an academic subject is classically associated with the work of Cappalletti in the 1970s and 1980s. In an article co-authored with Garth, he wrote that:

“The words ‘access to justice’ are admittedly not easily defined, but they serve to focus on two basic purposes of the legal system…. First, the system must be equally accessible to all; second, it must lead to results that are individually and socially just”.

In the context of human rights, a right to access justice is generally understood to focus on an entitlement to access mechanisms which provide redress for violations of one’s rights – mechanisms which are fair and lead to appropriate remedies. Thus the right to access justice is an enabling right in the sense that it enables one to challenge denial of other rights. To quote Lord, Guernsey, Balfe, Karr and Flowers (2009), para 12.1

“The ability to access justice is of critical importance in the enjoyment of all other human rights”.

Similarly, The Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights has observed that:

“The possibility of enforcing a right is central to making fundamental rights a reality. Access to justice is not just a right in itself but also an enabling and empowering right in so far as it allows individuals to enforce their rights and obtain redress. In this sense, it transforms fundamental rights from theory into practice.”

In the words of Michael Mansfield QC, quoted in the Guardian in 2011

“Access to justice is a much broader concept than access to the courts and litigation … It encompasses a recognition that everyone is entitled to the protection of the law and that rights are meaningless unless they can be enforced. It is about protecting ordinary and vulnerable people and solving their problems.”