The Finnish legal aid system is a mixed model system. Legal aid is provided by both private lawyers (solicitors and licensed legal counsel) and public legal aid attorneys from State Legal Aid Offices. Legal aid is primarily intended for those who do not have insurance for legal expenses and cannot afford to buy legal services by themselves.

The Latvian state ensured legal aid system is one of the youngest legal aid systems in Europe. It was only on June 1, 2005 that the State Ensured Legal Aid Law came into force. Its main goal is to promote the right of a natural person to a fair court protection by ensuring state-guaranteed financial support for the receipt of legal aid in civil and administrative disputes. To guarantee the successful provision of state ensured legal aid in civil and administrative cases, on January 1, 2006 a specific institution subordinated to the Ministry of Justice – Legal Aid Administration – was established.

In all our countries, there is much interest in developments in the use of technology - and this is referred to in some of the reports below. One of the consequences has been a renewed interest in international developments - since, though law may be national, technology is, of course, international. I have recently written a further annual report on law, technology and access to justice for the Legal Education Foundation (LEF) based in England.

Nova Scotia is remote and it feels like it. I thought I would take the train to Halifax and back from Montreal. Each trip would take a day and a night: it was not realistic.

Interestingly, Halifax Station is vast and apparently remains ready to function as it once did when the port was the major point of entry to vast numbers of immigrants and other travellers. The facilities for processing New Canadians are now a museum: the town has the not unattractive feel of having passed its peak. It retains a real charm; the people are friendly; and the coastline spectacular. It is good tourist destination but how does it fare if you visit to explore its legal aid?

It is nigh on forty years since I last worked in a law centre. So, if a lawyer from the glory days of the early seventies goes back to a centre generally acknowledged to be one of the best of the current crop, how much is recognisable; how much has changed; and what are the issues of wider relevance. Those were the questions to be asked in a recent visit to Avon and Bristol Law Centre.