« Access to Justice, Generated by Tech & Heart. »
Welcome to my doctoral research project, « Access to Justice, Generated by Tech & Heart. »
This project is a culmination of years of dedicated research and study, focusing on the intersection of technology and justice.
At the core of my research is a compelling inquiry: How can we effectively utilize the advancements of technology, melded with profound human understanding, to revolutionize the way individuals access justice? My exploration takes me deep into the intricate maze of legal systems, unravelling the nuanced layers of justice. I aim to grasp its significance not just within the confines of legal institutions but also in the broader tapestry of society and, most importantly, from the perspective of individuals who seek it. By integrating the capabilities of technology with the understanding of the human heart, I hope to contribute to the ongoing efforts to enhance the landscape of justice, aiming for it to be more accessible, equitable, and in tune with the diverse needs and aspirations of individuals.
Access to justice is a concept layered with intricacies. On a broader societal scale, it wrestles with issues of inequity, addressing the systemic disparities that affect different groups and communities. Within the walls of legal institutions, the challenge pivots to addressing inequality, ensuring that each individual receives equal treatment under the law. These nuanced perspectives naturally give rise to a host of pressing questions. Among them, one particularly resonates:
If, at the societal level, access to justice is framed around the broader challenges of equity, and at the institutional level it revolves around the specificities of equality,
then how is it perceived and experienced by individuals themselves?
What does ‘access to justice’ truly mean for someone seeking redress, and how do their experiences shape this understanding?
Generating Access to Justice Through Technology: A Person-Centered Approach
The pursuit of accessible justice is both a societal imperative and a personal challenge. Despite various initiatives by the Quebec government since 1970, the quest for equitable access to justice continues to face significant hurdles. This thesis embarks on a journey to explore the « Person-Centred Conception of Access to Justice, » integrating insights from Vulnerability Theories, Legal Problems Studies, Human-Centred Design, and Justice Epidemiology. It aims to harness advanced technologies such as AI, Blockchain, and others to create effective « Person-Centred Justice Solutions. »
To illuminate the potential impact of these solutions, let us consider two fictive use cases: one illustrating a scenario without the application of Person-Centred Justice Solutions and another demonstrating the transformative effect of employing such technology-enhanced solutions.
Fictive Use Case 1: The Traditional Approach – « Rêves Amortis: The Avoidable Nightmare of the Tremblay Family »
In this scenario, the Tremblay family’s dream of a serene life in their century-old house in Old Quebec quickly turns into a distressing ordeal. The house, with its storied past and charming architecture, initially seemed like a perfect home for Marc, Isabelle, and their children, Antoine and Amélie. However, as the harsh Quebec winter gave way to spring, troubling signs began to emerge. Mysterious damp patches appeared on the walls, a persistent chill pervaded the air, and the attic, envisioned as a playful haven for Amélie, became dank and unwelcoming.
The family’s quest for solutions led them to consult local experts, revealing a litany of problems. The plumbing system was outdated, posing a risk of further leaks, and water infiltration from snowmelt and rain had compromised the old stone walls. The heating system, crucial during the cold months, failed due to motor issues, plunging the family into a cold, uncomfortable living situation.
Desperate for resolution, the Tremblays approached the Gagnons, the previous owners, only to be met with disbelief and denial. This disagreement spiraled into a legal battle, casting a shadow over the Tremblay household. The legal proceedings not only strained the family’s finances but also took an emotional toll, disrupting their peaceful life and leaving them questioning their decision to purchase the house.
This use case illustrates the shortcomings of traditional approaches to resolving legal disputes. Without early identification and proactive management of the house’s vulnerabilities, the Tremblays found themselves embroiled in a complex legal situation, highlighting the need for more innovative, person-centered solutions.
Fictive Use Case 2: The Technology-Enhanced Approach – « Alert in the Attic: Technology to the Rescue for the Tremblays »
In this alternative scenario, the Tremblay family’s experience with their dream home unfolds differently, thanks to the integration of advanced technology. Upon moving into the historic house, they install a smart home system equipped with moisture sensors, thermal imaging cameras, and an AI-based diagnostic tool. This system is designed to monitor the house’s condition continuously and alert the family to any potential issues.
One sunny afternoon, Marc and Isabelle receive a notification on their smartphones: the system has detected unusual humidity levels in the attic. The message includes clear instructions and offers assistance for further investigation. Following the guided procedure, they use their phone cameras to scan the attic walls and ceiling. The intuitive interface highlights a specific area, and upon closer inspection, a minor roof leak is detected.
The AI system promptly analyzes the data and identifies the most probable cause of the leak. It also suggests immediate remedial actions and recommends local professionals for repair. Thanks to this early intervention, the Tremblays address the issue before it escalates into a more severe problem. The smart system not only prevents structural damage to their home but also spares them the emotional and financial strain of potential legal disputes.
This use case demonstrates the transformative impact of Person-Centred Justice Solutions. By employing technology proactively, the Tremblays are empowered to manage their home’s vulnerabilities effectively. This approach not only enhances their resilience but also ensures peace of mind, transforming a potentially complex legal issue into a manageable and routine home maintenance task.
The concept of « Person-Centred Justice Solutions, » as explored in this thesis, also represent a transformative approach to legal and social justice, fundamentally redefining how individuals interact with and experience justice systems. In the context of legal justice, they shift the focus from a one-size-fits-all, institution-centric model to a more nuanced, empathetic approach that recognizes the complexities and diversities of individual legal challenges. For instance, as illustrated in the fictive use cases of the Tremblay family, technology-enabled early detection and proactive problem resolution can prevent legal disputes from escalating, thereby reducing the burden on legal systems and fostering a more accessible and efficient justice experience. In the broader scope of social justice, these solutions have the potential to democratize access to justice, especially for vulnerable and marginalized groups. By tailoring responses to individual vulnerabilities and needs, Person-Centred Justice Solutions not only resolve legal issues more effectively but also contribute to a more equitable and just society. They empower individuals by providing them with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate everyday life problems, ultimately leading to a more resilient and socially cohesive community. This paradigm shift, therefore, represents a significant step towards realizing the ideal of justice that is not only legally sound but also socially equitable and responsive to the human condition.
This research addresses a critical gap in the field of access to justice and technology: the translation of the « person-centred conception of access to justice » from a theoretical construct into practical, technology-enhanced solutions. While existing theories offer a profound understanding of the multifaceted nature of justice and vulnerability, their application in the design of practical tools and systems that harness modern technologies like AI and Blockchain is under-explored. This gap highlights the need for an integrated approach that synthesizes diverse theoretical frameworks into a coherent, action-oriented strategy. The challenge is to craft a scalable and adaptable framework that effectively combines these theories with cutting-edge technology, focusing on the unique needs of individuals seeking justice. The ultimate goal is to bridge the divide between theoretical understanding and real-world application, advancing the concept of justice from a predominantly institutional-centric to a more person-centric paradigm.
- Theoretical Integration: To fuse insights from Vulnerability Theories and Legal Problems Studies with principles of Human-Centred Design and Justice Epidemiology, establishing a comprehensive theoretical foundation for « Person-Centred Justice. »
- Framework Development: To construct an integrative framework that combines these theoretical foundations with practical technological applications, enabling access to justice through a person-centred approach.
- Use Case Analysis: To apply this framework to a specific use case, demonstrating its effectiveness in devising « Person-Centred Justice Solutions. »
- Solution Design and Testing: To design and prototype technology-driven solutions within the established framework, ensuring responsiveness to individual needs while upholding ethical and legal norms.
- Impact Assessment: To assess the effectiveness of the Person-Centred Justice Solutions in enhancing access to justice, particularly focusing on the practical realization of the Person-Centred Conception of Access to Justice.
- Policy and Practice Implications: To explore how this framework and its resultant solutions can inform and transform existing policies and practices, offering strategic recommendations to stakeholders in the justice ecosystem.
This doctoral thesis aims to pioneer a novel approach in the realm of justice, marrying robust theoretical knowledge with advanced technology to develop person-centred justice solutions. The research is poised to transform the landscape of access to justice, shifting the focus from traditional, institutionally-driven models to a more person-centric framework that recognizes and addresses the unique justice needs of each person.
Publications & Presentations
Collaborators and Partners
|Collaborators and Partners
Charlaine Bouchard, Professeure titulaire
|Chaire de recherche sur les contrats intelligents
et la chaîne de blocs — Chambre des notaires du Québec
|Pavillon Charles-De Koninck
Québec (Québec) G1V 0A6chainedeblocs@fd.ulaval.ca
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