The current regulations hinder access to justice innovations at the expense of people-centred justice. The market for justice needs to be restructured if we are going to reach the goals of SDG 16.3. This is the conclusion of the meeting between the Justice Leaders and Dr. Renko Dirksen (Speaker of the Management Board of ARAG SE) and Klaus Heiermann (Member of the Management Board of ARAG Holding SE) at the ARAG Tower in Düsseldorf, held on May 24th 2022. They met to explore new forms of collaboration between public sector justice institutions and the private sector to meet the target of access to justice for all, contained in SDG16. Their conclusions were captured in a brief report that is made available for comments.
SDG 16 promises access to justice for all and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The world is running behind on achieving this goal. The Task Force on Justice estimated in 2019 that 5.1 billion people – two-thirds of the world’s population – lack meaningful access to justice. 1.5 billion people face unresolved civil, administrative or crime-related problems. In the world of May 2022, these figures are even higher. The Access to Justice gap has been deepened by the recent global health crisis, which came on top of a social and economic crisis in many parts of the world. Current Rule of Law and Democracy indicators also are showing downward trends. Recent developments in Ukraine and the aggression of Russia do not just pose a violation of international law. They illustrate how our modern conceptions of Rule of Law and Rechtsstaat are under constant pressure and threat.
Well-functioning justice systems are the places where conflicts are resolved, rights can be invoked, frustrations can be channelled and violence can be prevented. Such systems strengthen trust and provide for a fair way to divide value and damages. Their presence increasingly is important as the world faces major transitions around climate adaptation and sustainability, which are likely to require transformations of entire economies and societies. We cannot make these transitions without people having access to justice.
This challenge is too big, too complex and too important to leave to ministries of justice, judiciaries, bar associations, and legal aid boards. New collaborations, new roles and new ways of working are needed. The innovation power, resourcefulness and capital of the private justice sector are needed. Data shows that for a little more than half of the justice problems people have, there really is nowhere to go. These are problems that the traditional courts and lawyers’ model do not reach. The justice sector also falls behind other sectors in terms of transparency about spending in relation to achieved outcomes, innovation, spending on research and development, and sustainably translating learnings and research into better interventions and delivery models.
On May 24th 2022, the Justice Leaders and the ARAG met to discuss in more detail what a reinvigorated justice marketplace could look like. A marketplace where innovations that serve the justice needs of people, families and organisations can grow and scale. Whether they come from the public sector or the private sector.
The meeting first explored the parameters for such a marketplace: what must it ensure and have in place to ensure the outcomes that are needed? Some of the existing impediments in the regulatory framework need to be adjusted. Building on that, the meeting mapped out which roles and actors would be needed for the changes that are needed. It explored the need for increased cooperation between the public and private sectors. Finally, the group looked at the concrete steps that could be taken to make it happen.