The Right to Legal Aid: How BC’s Legal Aid System Fails to Comply with International Law

Report Launch
Wednesday October 1st, 2014, 7:00 – 9:00 pmAlice MacKay Room
Vancouver Public Library
350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver.

The right to legal Aid is the subject of two new reports. The Right to Legal: A Guide to International Law Rights explains what international law has to say about the individual’s right to, and the state’s duty to provide, legal aid. How BC’s Legal Aid System Fails to Meet International Obligations reviews the law in BC and recommendations for improvements. An introduction of the two reports by Lois Leslie will be followed by comments from panellists and a discussion.

Draft Report: Word Version | PDF Version


The Right to Legal Aid: How BC’s Legal Aid System Fails to Comply with International Law.

LRWC invites your feedback on the draft of this report that we hope will be a useful reference for lawyers, judges, legislators and other advocates in their efforts to ensure equal access to justice through the provision of adequate legal aid in BC and compliance with international law obligations.

Please send your comments by 8 August 2014 to This report and the companion report The Right to Legal Aid: A Handbook on Legal Aid at International Law are funded by the Law Foundation of BC and LRWC members. The lead author of the reports is Lois Leslie, B.Soc.Sc. (Hons), LLB, LLM. The final reports will be launched on 1 October 2014.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in August 2013 referred to access to justice as “the greatest challenge facing the Canadian justice system.” The March 2013 report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers concluded that legal aid is “.a right in itself and an essential precondition for the exercise and enjoyment of a number of human rights, including the right to a fair trial and the right to an effective remedy. Access to legal advice and assistance is also an important safeguard that helps to ensure fairness and public trust in the administration of justice.” The UN Human Rights Council confirmed in a 13 June 2013 resolution that “legal aid is an essential element of a fair, humane and efficient system of administration of justice that is based on the rule of law.”

BC’s legal aid system has been singled out for criticism by the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Committee on the Elimination or Racial Discrimination (CERD), which committees have noted Canada’s failure to provide access to justice for Aboriginal women and other socially and economically marginalized people.