The Civil Justice System and the Public: Highlights of the Alberta Pilot


  • Lois Gander
  • Diana Lowe
  • Mary Stratton



In 1999, the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice initialed the "Civil Justice System and the Public," a research program designed to study the state of communication between the civil justice system and the public and to develop practices to improve communication so that the public can become more involved in civil justice reform. The goal of the project is to make specific and clear recommendations for effective change that will ultimately improve access to the civil justice system by increasing the ability of the system to hear, involve and respond to the public. Researchers from the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice and the University of Alberta are joined by partners from across Canada in academia, the judiciary; the legal profession, court administration, public legal education agencies, community organizations, private consultants and the public in a collaborative and multidisciplinary research alliance. The extensive partnership and our collaborative approach to the research are key to our "action research " design, which involves our partners in the drafting of research questions, data collection, analysis and dissemination. Through the active and engaged participation of our partners, our findings are broadly known, understood and acted upon, ensuring that change is promoted through the process of conducting the research itself. This article outlines the major features of the study and the findings, recommendations and conclusions arising out of the pilot study conducted in Alberta.