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Mexico (From Perspectives on Legal Aid - An International Survey, P 213-242, 1979, Frederick H. Zemans, ed. - See NCJ-72478)

NCJ Number
S O Laborde
Date Published
30 pages
The enshrinement of the concept of access to justice for the underprivileged at the political level has a long tradition in Mexico; however, the goals have not been developed and the judiciary has not expanded on the concept.
The structure of Mexican civil procedures remained static for almost 100 years while the country experienced profound social and economic changes. The barriers to justice criticized in 1857 and attacked in 1917 still exist. Civil litigation remains an organic whole in which, for the sake of formal equality and neutrality or passivity on the judge's part, the unequal conditions prevailing in the social structure are left unchanged, often with detriment to the very purpose of objective law. Civil litigation has also concerned itself with the same kinds of disputes for decades, depite the social and economic evolution which has produced a greater number of new types of disputes. Problems such as the unjust enrichment of commercial entities at the expense of consumers are practically impossible to litigate, as are cases arising from the lack of planned industrialization and urban sprawl which create environmental problems. Overall, civil litigation has never been and is not a priority in Mexico. Internal structural factors which permit the disconnection between civil justice and the society at large include the lack of social remedies within the Mexican civil process. The typical objective of protection of individual rights is not served by contemporary Mexican civil justice, due to the costs and delays of the system. The non-Spanish speaking Indians and illiterate Mexicans are alienated from a formal, written civil justice system. The Mexican legal profession has been unwilling to attempt new methods allowing for a greater scope to the activities of civil litigation to fill the needs of the underprivileged. Included are 54 references. (Author abstract modified)