The Access to Justice Fund (ATJF) is a unique national fund that provides grants to nonprofit organizations across Canada.
The Foundation created the ATJF in 2009 after receiving a $14.6 million cy-près award in Cassano v TD Bank. (Courts make cy-près awards when it is not practical to distribute all the proceeds of a class action to individual plaintiffs.) Since then, the Foundation has received additional cy-près awards. This gave us the ability to make the ATJF a permanent fund that is available to receive cy-près awards on an ongoing basis and to develop new calls for applications with these funds.
The ATJF makes national calls for applications in priority areas and areas determined by the direction of the cy-près awards received. The themes vary from call to call. The grant amounts have traditionally been up to $100K.
The ATJF has made grants in:
- Public legal education, triage, brief services, and referrals (including tools to assist self-represented litigants); Indigenous Peoples’ legal needs; refugees (2020)
- Family law (2018)
- Investor rights (2016 and 2020)
- Children and youth; consumers; public legal education, intake and referral; racialized communities; refugees (2016)
- Indigenous people’s legal needs (2015)
- Consumer rights; domestic violence; Aboriginal legal issues; linguistic and rural barriers to access to justice; self-help (2010)
The Foundation works with the Association of Canadian Law Foundations (ACLF) and a national consultation group to provide input into possible new directions for the ATJF based on their expert knowledge and geographically diverse perspectives. The ACLF contributed significant knowledge and expertise to the Foundation’s grantmaking. The consultation group membership includes a justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, a former Chair of the Foundation, the Executive Directors of the Alberta and British Columbia law foundations, and a law school dean.