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Access_open Canadian Civil Justice: Relief in Small and Simple Matters in an Age of Efficiency

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2015
Keywords Canada, small and simple matters, austerity, civil justice, access to justice
Authors Jonathan Silver and Trevor C.W. Farrow
AbstractAuthor's information

    Canada is in the midst of an access to justice crisis. The rising costs and complexity of legal services in Canada have surpassed the need for these services. This article briefly explores some obstacles to civil justice as well as some of the court-based programmes and initiatives in place across Canada to address this growing access to justice gap. In particular, this article explains the Canadian civil justice system and canvasses the procedures and programmes in place to make the justice system more efficient and improve access to justice in small and simple matters. Although this article does look briefly at the impact of the global financial crisis on access to justice efforts in Canada, we do not provide empirical data of our own on this point. Further, we conclude that there is not enough existing data to draw correlations between austerity measures in response to the global crisis and the challenges facing Canadian civil justice. More evidence-based research would be helpful to understand current access to justice challenges and to make decisions on how best to move forward with meaningful innovation and policy reform. However, there is reason for optimism in Canada: innovative ideas and a national action plan provide reason to believe that the country can simplify, expedite, and increase access to civil justice in meaningful ways over the coming years.


Jonathan Silver
Jonathan Silver, B.A. Honors, J.D. 2015, Osgoode Hall Law School.

Trevor C.W. Farrow
Trevor C.W. Farrow is Professor and Associate Dean, Osgoode Hall Law School. He is very grateful to Jonathan Silver, who took the lead in researching and writing this article.
Editorial

Access_open Editors’ Introduction

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2015
Authors Rachel Herdy and Sanne Taekema
Author's information

Rachel Herdy
Rachel Herdy is Associate Professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Faculty of Law.

Sanne Taekema
Sanne Taekema is Professor of Jurisprudence at the Erasmus School of Law in Rotterdam.

    Pragmatism has become an established academic topic focused on an accepted canon of works and a number of seminal authors. There is something ironic about this fixation of the Pragmatist tradition. An anticipation of transience and embrace of adaptability runs through many of the classic works of Pragmatism. Nevertheless, there seems to be a tendency to fixate Pragmatism and freeze it in its classic iterations, especially with respect to its philosophy of scientific inquiry. The article seeks to retrieve the dynamics and adaptability the classical Pragmatists built into their notion of scientific inquiry. It seeks to illustrate the need for such flexibility with recent developments in the field of economics. When the financial crisis struck in 2007-2008, this involved more than the insolvency of a number of large banks. The crisis, at the very least, also involved the bankruptcy of a dominant economic model. It raised questions about the rationality of markets and the widespread faith in soft-touch regulation. It cast doubt on decades of neo-classical economic dogma that counseled small government, privatisation, and free markets. Neo-classical economics did not float free from other concerns. It informed notions about the role of the state, the limits of public policy, and the scope of democratic decision-making. Indeed, faith in rational, self-correcting markets affected debates in disparate disciplines like law, political science, philosophy, ethics, and history in many non-trivial ways. Hence, the financial crisis is also a crisis of scientific research.


Wouter de Been
Wouter de Been is assistant professor at the Erasmus School of Law, the Netherlands.

    The paper aims at justifying an interpretation of Dworkin’s theory of Law as Integrity that brings it closer to philosophical pragmatism despite his rejection of legal pragmatism. In order to achieve this aim, this work employs a classification of philosophical commitments that define pragmatism in a broad and in a narrow sense and shows that legal pragmatism follows the main thinkers of pragmatism in the narrow sense in committing to instrumentalism. The attribution of a pragmatist character to Dworkin’s theory of law rests on the idea that the adoption of a commitment to instrumentalism is not implicated by its adoption of other pragmatist commitments.


Thiago Lopes Decat
Thiago Lopes Decat, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor at the Department of Propedeutic and Critical Disciplines of the Faculdade de Direito Milton Campos, Nova Lima, Brazil.

    When discussing O. W. Holmes’s answer to the question What constitutes the law? Morton White underlines the fact that Holmes’s inquiry didn’t focus on developing the concept of law. White states: '…Holmes said little in The Path of the Law about the notion of legal authority, perhaps because he was interested not in what he called a "useless quintessence of all legal systems" but in "an accurate anatomy of one"'. Such ambition (or lack of ambition) is characteristic of many pragmatic enterprises in the field of jurisprudence. However, sometimes the opposition between legal pragmatism and other legal theories is built upon a reference to the notion of the 'nature' or 'essence' of law. Many legal philosophers who aim to reveal the very 'nature of law' (or 'the concept of law' as H. L. A. Hart did) try to interpret Holmes and other pragmatists as offering a competitive view to their own. I will follow White’s early intuition that such a construal of the controversy is simply wrong. Afterwards I will sketch a portrait of legal pragmatism in the context of White’s own inquiry and his version of 'holistic pragmatism'; thirdly, I will present in brief the main reasons for exploring the concept of law in the contemporary analytic philosophy of law. Then I will show that traditionally 'pragmatic' and 'analytic' efforts in legal theory are situated on different levels of generality and conceptuality. However, these efforts can be, at least to some extent, reordered under the aegis of holistic pragmatism.


Adam Michał Dyrda
Adjunct Professor, Department of Legal Theory, Faculty of Law, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland. Contact: adam.dyrda@uj.edu.pl; http://jagiellonian.academia.edu/AdamDyrda.
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