Access to justice
Comparative study on access to justice in gender equality and anti-discrimination law
Client: European Commission / DG Justice
The principle of access to justice is of fundamental importance for victims of discrimination seeking redress. Effective access to justice is a precondition to obtaining an effective remedy.
A number of procedural guarantees have been developed by EU legislators and the Court of Justice to ensure effective access to justice in discrimination and gender equality cases. Directives 2000/43/EC, 2000/78/EC, 2004/113/EC and 2006/54/EC reflect much of the Court of Justice case-law and establish a number of key principles as regards access to justice including provisions on defence of rights, the reversal of the burden of proof and the requirement for an effective, proportionate and dissuasive remedy.
The aim of the comparative study was to provide an overview of the situation in the 27 EU Member States and the EFTA/EEA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), as regards access to justice in cases of discrimination on grounds of gender, race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation. It addressed procedural guarantees, the requirement for an effective, proportionate and dissuasive remedy and the effectiveness of the legal framework in practice.
A comparison between Member States and the EFTA/EEA countries was undertaken, and resulted in the identification of best practices. The study also provided an analysis on the effectiveness, proportionality and dissuasiveness of the judicial procedures and of the sanctions in discrimination cases compared with similar procedures and sanctions regarding other types of illegal behaviour in the same areas.
The final report and the results were presented and discussed at a conference attended by representatives of national authorities of EU and EEA countries, as well as NGOs and social partners present at EU level.
The study has been published on the website of the European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/conference_sept_2011/final_report_access_to_justice_final_en.pdf