The Fairness of the Law

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The fairness of the law

 It is very important for a legal system to ensure that there is fairness across the board for those involved in the legal system, whether defendants, plaintiffs, or others. There are two ways in which the legal system ensures fairness. On one hand, there are the general presumptions and procedures to ensure a fair trial or court hearing. On the other, there is the system of law which is intended to ensure fairness in society; this is known as the Law of Equity. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done, if the legal system is to retain the trust of society. Unless victims, witnesses, and society at large are aware of the efforts made to bring to justice those responsible for crimes and wrongdoings, justice will remain an abstract concept. It is important that the law is publicly seen to be bringing about accountability through the criminal justice system. Some key elements of justice in the legal system are: the presumption of innocence; fair jury trials; unbiased judges; and the provision of protection for witnesses if required. The presumption of innocence is a right that is intended to apply across all countries and cultures in the world, as a basic human right. Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that: '1: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.' The 'guarantees necessary for defence' are provided by the existence of public defenders and legal aid programs. A person also has the right to represent his or herself if they have so chosen. Impartial juries are the cornerstone of the criminal justice system. As Michael Chesterman writes: 'A basic principle of Australian criminal procedure is that the jury's primary duty is to reach an impartial verdict on the basis only of the admissible and admitted evidence and the argument put...
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