BETTER ACCESS TO BETTER JUSTICE
THE POTENTIAL OF PROCEDURAL REFORM
Improving access to justice is often identified as a goal of reforms to legal procedure. What does access to justice mean in this context? This article proposes that “better access” and “better justice” should be understood as distinct but overlapping goals. Access improves when procedural costs confronting litigants are reduced. Justice has three qualities—substantive justice, procedural justice, and public justice—which legal procedure can produce to a greater or lesser degree. Although access and justice are sometimes in tension as goals for procedural reform, they are also harmonious. Better access to better justice is a worthy goal for procedural reformers. Welfarism is introduced in the final part of the article, as a way to focus access to justice reforms and make the necessary tradeoffs. This article’s argument is illustrated by three procedural reform trends—mandatory mediation, smaller-dollar procedure, and inquisitoriality.
Keywords:Access to Justice, Civil Procedure, Procedural Reform, Procedural Costs, Substantive Justice, Administrative Tribunals, Welfarism, Mandatory Mediation, Small Claims Court, Simplified Procedure, Inquisitoriality, Proportionality
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