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Four-fold factors that limit access to justice
Rose Wall of CLM

12 Dec 2019 / justice Print

Four-fold factors that limit access to justice

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality was told yesterday of the multiplicity of factors that prevent access to justice.

As part of the committee’s inquiry into access to justice, Rose Wall of Community Law & Mediation (CLM) outlined the factors that deter people from accessing legal services. These include:

  • Cost,
  • Lack of awareness of rights,
  • A feeling of intimidation around the legal world, and
  • Long waiting times for legal aid.

Wall highlighted the importance of community law centres in providing access to justice for people living in disadvantaged communities.


She said: “Access to justice begins long before anyone steps inside a courtroom; it begins with creating an awareness of rights and the law so that the community are more empowered to use the law to enforce those rights.

“As a community law centre, education is a critical part of our work. Many of our information talks and legal-advice clinics are delivered on an outreach basis in locations where the community is already congregating, for example, in community organisations, public libraries and parish halls. 


“Our legal advice and representation services are free and embedded in the community, making them as accessible as possible. Law centres such as Community Law & Mediation also have a critical role to play in campaigning on behalf of the community for law reform, and for the safeguarding of rights already enshrined in law.”

Legal aid does not cater for certain areas of law, such as employment and equality cases before the Workplace Relations Commission and appeals to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.


Wall said that there were no links with disadvantaged communities under the current model of legal aid, nor was there capacity to provide information and education, or campaign for law reform.

She called on the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality to look at restructuring the State’s civil-legal-aid scheme to include education and law reform functions, in line with the community law centre model.

She also called for the scheme to be properly resourced and provided on the basis of need, rather than area of law.

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