• Study on "Access to Justice and Legal Aid in the Mediterranean Partner Countries"

    Access to Justice

    In this survey, access to justice should be understood to mean all of the legal and organisational conditions that define the availability and efficiency of judicial services. This concept is particularly wide reaching. The range of application of the survey is no less.


    The partner countries

    In March 2011, six out of nine partner countries in the project had participated in the survey: Algeria, Israel, the Kingdom of Jordan, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Palestinian Authority and Tunisia (a total population of close to 90 million inhabitants). Involved in the project at the start, Lebanon finally withdrew its participation, unable to find spokesman ready to participate in the survey. It is hoped that Lebanon will be ready to provide the data required should the exercise be repeated in the future. Egypt and Syria unfortunately did not participate in this exercise.


    Objectives of the Survey

    The objective of this survey is to conduct, certainly for the first time, a scientific project to compare access to Justice, centred exclusively on the Mediterranean countries. It is therefore an instrument for understanding, an image of the conditions of access to justice at a given time under different aspects. The survey does not aim to produce a ranking between "good" and "bad" pupils, nor may it do this. Nor is it a pretentious model ready for copying. Aware that each country has its own characteristics and specific cultural, economic and legal features, the authors are in no way creating or proposing a typical model to be copied. Quite the contrary, in their comments, the countries involved identified their strong points and those requiring improvement, revealing good practices and leaving room for thought on how to transpose them to the other MEDA countries.


    The assessment questionnaire on access to Justice in judicial systems

    A questionnaire to help collect thorough and reliable information was prepared by Julien LHUILLIER, the scientific expert in the survey, who had already worked as an expert for the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), Summarizing the work of the CEPEJ (kindly authorized by its secretariat), Mr LHUILLIER submitted an initial version of the questionnaire to the Secretariat of the EuroMed Justice II Project, accompanied by an explanatory note on how to harmonize the collection of responses and overcome difficulties of interpretation. The first version of the questionnaire was therefore amended, mainly to take account of the specific aspects of the Mediterranean countries, as explained during conferences, workshops and training sessions dedicated to access to Justice right from 9 the start of the EuroMed Justice II Project. The amended version of the questionnaire was then submitted to Brussels at the time of the meeting to launch the survey, and addressed to the national contact points in the participating countries for them to give their opinions on any possible contradictions or defects in the instrument. The only modification suggested was to introduce questions on international cooperation, which was approved and introduced in the final version of the questionnaire. The final version of the questionnaire includes 186 questions, all of them dealing with access to Justice. The questionnaire is divided into 9 parts: access to law, access to legal aid, physical and virtual access to Justice, the treatment of the parties by Justice, the duration of proceedings, the presentation of judicial decisions, access to justice for vulnerable people, assessment of justice and citizen confidence and international cooperation.


    The collection and processing of data

    Data are collected and processed in two stages. The first stage involves the responses to the questionnaires. The questionnaires were sent out, accompanied by the explanatory note, to the national contact points of the participating countries, for them to be able to identify within their country the most competent professionals to reply to the questions asked by the survey. Often, in the case of questions put to different spokesman, the national contact points took the decision to divide the questionnaires into several parts or to organize collective response sessions. At the end, the responses, duly validated by the authorities of the countries, were returned to the national contact points (or national representatives) and summarized by the scientific expert, Julien LHUILLIER.