The Civil Justice Centre (CJC) is a socio-legal centre focussed on carrying out research to enhance and promote access to civil justice in Aotearoa. Civil justice problems are legal issues that fall outside the criminal law. Access to justice is the ability of people to resolve their legal problems and enforce their rights.
CJC's vision (ko te aronga) is that everyone in Aotearoa can have equitable access to justice when they encounter a legal problem and that they can solve their problem in a system that is responsive to their needs and upholds the rule of law.
We encourage transformation of legal services and the civil justice system through interdisciplinary research and engagement. Our research informs policy and practice. We study all aspects of the civil justice system including:
- Legal services – legal information provision, litigation in-person support, advice and advocacy services provided by lawyers, non-lawyers, and the future of lawyering;
- Dispute resolution – adjudication (courts and tribunals) and adjudicators, alternative forms of resolution, and the future of dispute resolution (online courts and other innovations).
In carrying out this research we:
Focus on aspects of the civil justice system that people are most likely to come into contact with, and on people who face the most significant barriers.
Give voice to the people accessing justice through research and engagement.
Foster collaboration because we recognise that transformation requires diversity and shared commitment of many players.
Foster student interest and commitment to improving access to justice because we recognise transformation needs to be sustained over time.
We welcome enquiries from students interested in the field of civil justice research. We are not currently employing any new fellows.
Associate Professor Bridgette Toy-Cronin researches access to the civil justice system, including the delivery of legal services (lawyer and non-lawyer services) and the design of dispute resolution systems (ADR, tribunals, courts and online methods).
Kayla Stewart's previous civil justice research focused on how the legal profession can facilitate access to justice. She is currently researching legal need in Aotearoa.
Understanding legal need in Aotearoa
Funded by the Borrin Foundation, this project examines enquiries made to Citizen Advice Bureau to understand the legal needs of people in Aotearoa and to identify the type of assistance needed by people seeking help for their legal problems.
The results of this project will inform access to justice policy and resource, directing resource to where it is most needed.
Access to Justice Advisory Group and Working Group – National Project
The civil justice system is complex and multi-faceted and acknowledges that different people and organisations are experts in different parts of the system.
For the system to work effectively from a user perspective, there needs to be a degree of coordination and coherence that can only be achieved through an overarching shared strategy to guide our way to improved access to justice.
Bridgette is part of the independent working group proposing a strategic framework to encourage a unified and coordinated approach to improving access to civil justice. She is also part of the advisory group helping to action projects to improve access to justice in New Zealand.
Eviction and its consequences: representation, discourse and reality
Bridgette is undertaking a Marsden-funded project on eviction and its consequences in Aotearoa, with a focus on the operation of the Tenancy Tribunal.
Follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date with our research projects.
The University of Otago Civil Justice Centre works collaboratively with a range of researchers, academics, professionals, and practitioners. We welcome enquiries for collaboration.
- Faculty of Law
- Otago Centre for Law and Society
- New Zealand Law Foundation Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies
- Children's Issues Centre
- Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand
Please note that we do not give legal advice. If you require legal advice, please contact your local Community Law Centre.
Civil Justice Centre
Faculty of Law
University of Otago
PO Box 56