In 1924, Lord Hewart, Chief Justice of England, famously stated that “Justice should not only be done, but also seen to be done.” This phrase has since become one of the fundamental principles of justice systems around the world, emphasizing the importance of transparency and fairness in legal proceedings. However, as we approach the 99th anniversary of Lord Hewart’s quote, it is worth considering whether this principle is still sufficient in our modern era.
In 2023, my take on this quote is that “Justice should not only be seen to be done, but should actually be done”.While transparency and fairness are crucial components of any justice system, they are not enough on their own. Justice must also be swift, accessible, effective and more importantly uninfluenced by any external factors in order to truly serve the needs of society.
One of the biggest challenges facing justice systems today is the issue of accessibility. Many people are unable to access legal services due to financial, social, or cultural barriers. This creates a significant gap in the ability of justice systems to serve all members of society equally. To address this issue, many countries are exploring new approaches to legal aid, such as offering free or low-cost legal services to those who need them.
Another major challenge facing justice systems is the issue of speed. Legal proceedings can often drag on for years or even decades, causing immense frustration and stress for those involved. This is particularly true for criminal cases, where delays can result in prolonged detention or even wrongful convictions. To address this issue, many countries are exploring new approaches to case management, such as using technology to streamline the legal process and reduce delays.
One more emerging issue is that there is growing concerns about the independence of the judiciary in many countries across the world. There have also been allegations that the judiciary has been used as a tool by the governments to suppress dissent and opposition voices.
The justice systems, therefore, must also be effective in order to truly serve the needs of society. This means that they must be able to deliver just outcomes in a timely and consistent manner. It also means that they must be able to adapt to changing social, economic, and technological conditions in order to remain relevant and effective over time.
In conclusion, the principle that “Justice should not only be seen to be done, but should actually be done” represents an evolution of Lord Hewart’s original quote, reflecting the changing needs andexpectations of society over the past 99 years. While transparency and fairness remain important components of any justice system, they must be accompanied by accessibility, speed, effectiveness and remain
uninfluenced by any external pressures in order to truly serve the needs of all members of society. As we continue to evolve our justice systems to meet these challenges, we can ensure that justice is not just a concept, but a reality of all. Justice is of paramount importance for any society as otherwise, if injustice delivered in the garb of justice paves way for necrosis of democracy.