FLAC welcomes publication of conference report by the Chief Justice’s Working Group on Access to Justice and Civil Legal Review

12 July 2023

Final_Access to Justice Conference Report[13]

Speaking on the launch of the Chief Justice’s Working Group on Access to Justice’s report on the Civil Legal Review today, Eilis Barry, CE of the legal rights charity FLAC said;

“As a member of both the Chief Justice’s Working Group on Access to Justice and the department of Justice’s Civil Legal Aid Review Group, FLAC regard this as a pivotal time in the pursuit of access to justice for all.  The publication of this report will hopefully provide insight and inspiration for  the Civil legal Aid review into what a model legal assistance system would look like. The insights and learnings from this report point to the need for  a radically different system of public legal assistance  which is designed from the perspective of the user, with targeted legal services aimed at specific groups and outreach services to reach those most in legal need, with an emphasis on prevention and early legal advice. It would bring legal services to where people are and embed them within community and health settings.”


This was the second conference organised by the Chief Justice’s Working Group on Access to Justice. There were three pillars of the conference: the Current System, the International Experience and Mapping the Gap between the Current System and a Model System in Ireland

The international speakers offered their perspective and highlighted the need measure unmet legal need and the importance of early information and advice. Professor Pascoe Pleasence, professor of Empirical legal Studies in UCL, spoke about how legal problems are not randomly distributed across populations, they disproportionately affect disadvantaged groups and can create and exacerbate disadvantage. The greater the disadvantage the greater the number of legal issues that a person will experience. The justice legal system need to be designed from the perspective of the user. He also pointed out how Ireland does not measure unmet legal need and how this is essential for evidence based targeted  responses.

Professor Dame Hazel Genn, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, UCL, spoke at the conference about the importance of early intervention and provision of advice, investment in the prevention of legal problems, tailoring services to the needs experienced, triaging and embedding appropriate advice in areas where people go to seek that advice, rather than placing the onus on the person to figure that out themselves.

Professor Genn highlighted the “significant connection between unmet legal needs and health. Only 20% of health status relates to biological factors or healthcare provision. The remaining 80% is determined by social factors, which in turn are greatly affected and influenced by the existence of legal problems.” She recommended embedding legal supports in multidisciplinary teams which combine legal and health tools, to transform community health services to include provisions of legal services. This would involve establishing

or resourcing  the co-location of services in health and community settings and support or engaging in health justice partnerships.

FLAC looks forward to its continued participation in the Civil Legal Aid Review Group and the Chief Justice’s Working Group on Access to Justice.


A copy of the report can be viewed on FLAC’s website at

About FLAC

FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an Irish legal, equality and human rights organisation, which exists to promote equal access to justice. As an NGO, FLAC relies on a combination of statutory funding, contributions from the legal professions and donations from individuals and grant-making foundations to support its work.

FLAC offers basic legal information through its telephone information line on 01 906 10 10.

Our phone line operates Monday to Friday from 9.30am-1pm. With an additional phone line information service on Monday evenings from 7-9pm for callers who cannot call during the morning.

FLAC provides legal advice directly to members of both the Roma community, the Irish Traveller community and the LGBTQI+ community via specialist legal clinics. FLAC also campaigns on a range of issues including consumer credit, personal debt, and fairness in social welfare law, public interest law and civil legal aid.

FLAC is an independent NGO which for over fifty years has been working to promote equal access to justice in Ireland.