What is wrong with the judiciary? Why do miscarriages of justice occur? Why must a single innocent man be incarcerated for a single day- does that not defy the very fundamentals of justice itself?

Voltaire said: “It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one.”

Today it seems as though we are more than willing to condemn an innocent man to add to statistics. Conviction rates do not define the efficacy of a legal system – we seem to be forgetting this fact. Lawyers strive to find lacunas in the law to save their clients – and through no fault of their own. It is their duty to serve their client to the best of their abilities. The issue arises with incompetent representation. When there is a rift between the skills and presentation of the opposing lawyers. True, the law will not change; but it must be acknowledged that the good fortune of being represented by a good lawyer arguably gives the defendant the upper hand.

The judiciary is arguably the most important intra-national organization. It seems apparent that the judiciary is corrupt. People may think by using the word ‘corrupt’ one means that a judge is taking bribes. This is not the case. Corruption describes any organized, interdependent system in which part of the system is either not performing duties it was originally intended to, or performing them in an improper way, to the detriment of the system's original purpose. Miscarriages of justice seem to fall comfortably into the ambit of this definition since the duty a court is to perform is to adjudicate cases and to reach conclusions which uphold justice.

Another factor in determining the outcome of a given case is the discretion that the judges have in deciding (upon the facts) of which facet of law to follow- or whether to create a new way of approaching the issue on a whole. This, as we have seen in UK law, has had a bittersweet effect on the efficacy of judicial proceedings. On one hand, there is a chance that a claim may pass on the basis of policy considerations even if precedent is asserting otherwise. On the other hand, this creates uncertainty in the law – a judgment cannot be predicted with complete certainty at the outset of a case regardless of precedent present with similar facts.

‘Policy considerations’ and the ‘floodgates of litigation’ theories, in my opinion, also corrupt a legal system. It seems as though the courts are choosing to overthrow justice to avoid a massive workload. Granted, the ‘floodgates of litigation’ argument is valid on the basis that the efficacy of a court will fall considerably due to a big backlog of cases as justice delayed is justice denied. In response, however, I pose this question to my readers: what then, is justice denied on the basis of attempting to prevent delay?

The question still remains: what causes miscarriages of justice? The answer is not a simple one. No legal system in the world today is perfect to the T. The major factor- human error- is one that is attached to every system controlled by man. Errors of judgment, bad representation, inconsistent precedent, evidential problems, perjury- all play a role to potentially cause a miscarriage of justice.

The conclusion? There can be none. In accordance with our intellects and the law today that it has evolved to be is the best we can do. It is continuously evolving and will continue to do so until we attain legal utopia (if ever). Despite the court’s prudence, miscarriages of justice continue to happen with no one particular reason each time.