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Experts discuss access to justice

At right: Justice Ramiro de Devaldivia Cano (centre right) shares his perspective as a justice on the Supreme Court of Peru. Seated to his left are Justice Gloria Smith, Supreme Court of Jamaica, and Justice Samuel Marful-Sau, Judicial Training Institute of Ghana.

A judicial roundtable held November 18 at the College of Law brought together experts from around the globe and across Canada to discuss access to justice and legal empowerment of the poor. The roundtable, co-hosted by the college and the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, welcomed participants from as far away as Peru and Jamaica–whose attending representatives serve on the Supreme Courts of those countries–and Ghana. They were joined by Saskatchewan participants from the province’s judiciary, the College of Law, the Native Law Centre and the ministry of justice, as well as Canadian experts.

U of S law dean Sanjeev Anand, Simon-Pierre Lessard from Federal Judicial Affairs Canada, roundtable chair and Saskatchewan Chief Justice John Klebuc and judicial moderator Judge Gerald Seniuk provided opening remarks.

A presentation, “Making the law work for everyone–an overview of the findings of the United Nations Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor,” was provided by Naresh Singh of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). General discussion followed, encompassing the four pillars of legal empowerment of the poor: property rights; labour rights; business rights (including small business); and access to justice and the rule of law.

A panel discussion on access to justice followed, featuring U of S participants Sakej Henderson and Wanda McCaslin of the Native Law Centre and law professors Mary Eberts and Sarah Buhler.

The judicial roundtable–one of four held in Canada, with others hosted at the universities of Ottawa, Winnipeg and McGill–was organized by Norman Zlotkin, Associate Dean, Academic, from the College of Law and Federal Judicial Affairs national co-ordinator Marilou McPhedran. A set of recommendations have been developed from each of the four roundtables, as well as action plans developed by the visiting judges for their respective countries. All will be compiled in a final report and a video for judicial education, which will be available through Federal Judicial Affairs in 2012.