History and achievements

In the beginning ...

JUSTICE was founded in 1957, following the visit of a group of British lawyers to observe treason trials in South Africa and Hungary. It was set up to promote the rule of law and to assist the fair administration of justice.

JUSTICE's influential reports helped establish the Ombudsman system, influenced the development of tribunals, and promoted legislation on the rehabilitation of offenders and compensation for victims of crime.

Miscarriages of justice

We rapidly developed expertise in miscarriage of justice casework. The success of this work was largely due to the tenacity and determination of Tom Sargant, who was JUSTICE's first Secretary, a post he held until his retirement in 1982.

Working with the BBC's Rough Justice and Channel Four's Trial and Error programmes, JUSTICE secured the release of many prisoners who had been wrongly imprisoned. JUSTICE played a significant role in changing the legal establishment's view of the inadequacies of the system. We highlighted these in evidence to the 1993 Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, which finally led to the establishment of the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 1997.

A change of focus - human rights ...

With the establishment of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, we wound down our casework. Through the 1990s we established and developed our programmes on human rights legislation, criminal justice, asylum and immigration, discrimination and privacy. These areas still constitute the main focus of our work as we continue to press for legislative change in the 21st century.

In 2000, we welcomed the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998, which brought the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law. We continue to be at the cutting edge of human rights law.

... international issues ...

The early years of the new millennium have seen JUSTICE adopting a more international focus. This is in response to globalising issues such as terrorism, cross-border crime, asylum and the growing influence of the European Union on domestic law and policy.

... and the constitution

On the domestic front, we have continued to defend the Human Rights Act in the face of attacks from both main political parties. We launched a major research project to examine the tensions inherent in an unwritten constitution balancing the powers of government, Parliament and the judiciary.