Legal Needs Surveys and Access to Justice

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This report offers an empirical tool to help planners, statisticians, policy makers and advocates understand people's everyday legal problems and experience with the justice system. It sets out a framework for the conceptualisation, implementation and analysis of legal needs surveys and is informed by analysis of a wide range of national surveys conducted over the last 25 years. It provides guidance and recommendations in a modular way, allowing application into different types of surveys. It also outlines opportunities for legal needs-based indicators that strengthen our understanding of access to civil justice.


Executive summary

Access to justice underpins inclusive growth and is central to advancing well-being and sustainable development. Effective access to justice helps resolve disputes at the heart of people’s lives, promotes government accountability and gives people and businesses confidence to enter into and enforce contracts. In 2008, the United Nations Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor estimated that 4 billion people live outside the protection of the law. As part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, all countries agreed to “promote the rule of law at the national and international levels, and ensure equal access to justice for all” under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16. Access to justice is both a standalone target and enabler of other development priorities including health and social development.


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