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PROJECT TOPIC: AN APPRAISAL OF THE LAWS PROMOTING ACCESS TO JUSTICE THROUGH LEGAL AID IN NIGERIA: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1   Background of the Study

        Justice is the principle that people receive which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes “deserving” being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, including the concepts of moral correctness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness[1].

        Justice is a human need while access to justice is a human right[2]. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, justice is the fair and proper administration of laws[3]. In the same vein, access to justice entails the use of courts and other legal institutions in the protection of rights and the pursuance of claims of members of society[4]. As human beings interact with one another, there are bound to be disputes and conflicts. Sometimes, conflicts may deteriorate to the extent of the persons or one person approaching the courts to file legal actions. Other times, conflicts may be resolved amicably without recourse to the court of law. Still, the fact remains that access to justice would only be guaranteed in a society where people can enforce and protect their rights[5]. It is a known fact that accessing justice by a vast majority of members of the society could be very difficult due to reasons such as ignorance, illiteracy, and lack of financial strength to pay for the services of a lawyer to either sue on their behalf or to defend them[6]. Hence, the evolvement of the legal aid scheme in Nigeria.

        The term “access to justice” is broad. It is capable of containing several other concepts under its umbrella. Since the term “justice” itself is jurisprudential in nature, what constitutes “access to justice” is bound to differ when considered based on different parameters. Deborah Rhode, an American Scholar while commenting on the differing opinion on the connotation of access to justice noted that;

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice

[2] C.O. Oba, ‘Third Party Litigation Funding and Access to Civil Litigation: Prospects and Challenges in Nigeria’ (2013) 23(2) African Journal Of Clinical Legal Education And Access To Justice.

[3] B.A. Garner (ed.), Black’s Law Dictionary (9th Edn.) (Thompson-West, New York), 942, 2009.

[4] E. Wanyama, ‘Unpacking the Dialectics of Accessing Justice through Legal Aid in East Africa: An Overview of the Constitutions of Uganda and Kenya’ (2013) 59(2) African Journal of Clinical Legal Educastion And Access To Justice.

[5] M.M Barry, ‘Clinical Legal Education in the Law University: Goals and Challenges’, (2007) International Journal Of Legal Education, pp 27-50

[6] Ibid.


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