Administration of justice

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The administration of justice is the process by which the legal system of a government is executed. The presumed goal of such administration is to provide justice for all those accessing the legal system.


Doing justice refers to the act of carrying out fair and equitable actions, while having justice could imply possessing or experiencing the benefits or outcomes of justice. Both are important aspects of a just society. Justice being perceived as a rare commodity in Pakistan is a concern echoed by many. The effectiveness and fairness of the justice system can vary widely across different regions and communities. Efforts to strengthen institutions, improve transparency, and promote accountability are essential for fostering a more just society.

  • Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.
  • To be effective, judicial administration must not be leaden-footed.
  • How long shall we blunder along without the aid of unpartisan and authoritative scientific assistance in the administration of justice, no one knows; but all fair persons not conventionalized by provincial legal habits of mind ought, I should think, unite to effect some change.
    • Learned Hand, Parke, Davis & Co. v. H. K. Mulford Co. (1911).
  • In its proper meaning equality before the law means the right to participate in the making of the laws by which one is governed, a constitution which guarantees democratic rights to all sections of the population, the right to approach the court for protection or relief in the case of the violation of rights guaranteed in the constitution, and the right to take part in the administration of justice as judges, magistrates, attorneys-general, law advisers and similar positions.
In the absence of these safeguards the phrase 'equality before the law', in so far as it is intended to apply to us, is meaningless and misleading. All the rights and privileges to which I have referred are monopolised by whites, and we enjoy none of them. The white man makes all the laws, he drags us before his courts and accuses us, and he sits in judgement over us.
  • According to the system of natural liberty, the sovereign has only three duties to attend to; three duties of great importance, indeed, but plain and intelligible to common understandings: First, the duty of protecting the society from violence and invasion of other independent societies; secondly, the duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice; and, thirdly, the duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works and certain public institutions, which it can never be for the interest of any individual, or small number of individuals, to erect and maintain; because the profit would never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, though it may frequently do much more than repay it to a great society.
  • Impressed with a conviction that the due administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good Government, I have considered the first arrangement of the Judicial department as essential to the happiness of our Country, and to the stability of its political system; hence the selection of the fittest characters to expound the law, and dispense justice, has been an invariable object of my anxious concern.

The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904)[edit]

Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 2-8.
  • It is fit that justice should be administered with great caution.
    • Abbott, C.J., Rex v. Bowditch (1818), 2 Chit. Rep. 281.
  • In drawing an inference or conclusion from facts proved, regard must always be had to the nature of the particular case, and the facility that appears to be afforded, either of explanation or contradiction. No person is to be required to explain or contradict, until enough has been proved to warrant a reasonable and just conclusion against him, in the absence of explanation or contradiction.
    • Abbott, C.J., King v. Burdett (1820), 1 St. Tr. (N. S.) 140.
  • Whether I shall persuade others that I have acted right I know not. It is enough for me as an Englishman to be myself satisfied that I have done so.
    • Best, J., Trial of Sir F. Burdett (1820), 1 St. Tr. (N. S.) 120.
  • I have acted upon this occasion with the firmness which the times in which we live particularly require, but I trust I have not lost sight of that which ought in all times to guide a Judge in this country, where every magistrate is reminded by the oath of his Sovereign, that it is his first duty to administer justice in mercy.
    • Best, J., Trial of Sir F. Burdett (1820), 1 St. Tr. (N. S.) 120.
  • The Judge dispenses mercy; mercy is the prerogative of the Crown. The Judge pronounces the law's doom; it is the privilege of the Sovereign to modify and mitigate a sentence according to the circumstances of the case. The crime is not always the measure of guilt. A small crime may involve greater criminality than a great crime; a great crime may have less of guilt in it than a small one. The law cannot measure this—at least our law does so but imperfectly; and public France, provision is made for such a frequent state of things, by the power given to the jury of finding a verdict of "guilty with extenuating circumstances." We do it rudely by the jury's recommendation to mercy. But motives are often misrepresented and misunderstood out of Court, where the facts that call for mitigation are not known. The public look broadly at the crime and take no account of the circumstances of the criminal, and they exclaim against lenity, or against severity, ignorant of the causes that in either case determine the actual amount of criminality.
    • Best, J., Trial of Sir F. Burdett (1820), 1 St. Tr. (N. S.) 120.
  • Like my brothers who sit with me, I am extremely reluctant to decide anything except what is necessary for the special case, because I believe by long experience that judgments come with far more weight and gravity when they come upon points which the Judges are bound to decide, and I believe that obiter dicta, like the proverbial chickens of destiny, come home to roost sooner or later in a very uncomfortable way to the Judges who have uttered them,1 and are a great source of embarrassment in future cases. Therefore I abstain from putting a construction on more than it is necessary to do for this particular case.
    • Bowen, L.J., Cooke v. New River Company (1888), L. R. 38 C. D. 70.
  • The law hath respect not only to Courts of records and judicial proceedings there, but even to all other proceedings, where the person that gives his judgment or sentence hath judicial authority.
    • Holt, C.J., Philips v. Bury (1694), 1 T.R. 357.
  • I will not suffer any impertinent interposition in causes, in those who are no parties in the cause.
    • Lord Kenyon, L.C.J., Proceedings against the Dean of St. Asaph (1783), 21 How. St. Tr. 862.
  • I desire that after I have given the judgment of the Court, that judgment may not be talked about; I have given it upon my oath, and am answerable to my country for it. I have been before reminded that these things are not passing in a corner, but in the open face of the world; I hope I need not be admonished that I am to administer justice; if I have done amiss, let the wrath and indignation of Parliament be brought out against me; let me be impeached; I am ready to meet the storm whenever it comes, having at least one protection; the consciousness that I am right. In protecting the dignity of the Court, I do the best thing I can do for the public: for if my conduct here is extra-judicially arraigned, the administration of justice is arraigned and affronted, and that no man living shall do with impunity.
    • Lord Kenyon, L.C.J., Proceedings against the Dean of St. Asaph (1783), 21 How. St. Tr. 875.
  • It is the great duty of every Court of justice to administer justice as well as they can between the litigating parties; another, and not less material, duty is to satisfy those parties that the whole case has been examined and considered.
    • Lord Kenyon, C.J., Booth v. Hodgson (1795), 6 T. R. 408.
  • I should be extremely sorry to find that in a fictitious proceeding, instituted for the more easy attaining of justice, different rules were to obtain in the different Courts.
    • Lord Kenyon, C.J., Goodright v. Rich (1797), 7 T. R. 334.
  • The interest of the public is never better advanced than when we can inculcate by our rules the advantage of acting honestly.
    • Lord Kenyon, C.J., Cuming v. Sharland (1801), 1 East, 413.
  • Justice can be peaceably and effectually administered there only where there is recognised authority and adequate power.
    • Lord Langdale, M.R., Duke of Brunswick v. Bang of Hanover (1844), 6 Beav. 49.
  • No man should be allowed to have an interest against his duty.
  • As a general rule, I beg that it may be understood, that a case is not to be cut into parts, but that when it is known what the question in issue is, it must be met at once.
  • It is of the greatest importance that the administration of justice should not only be free from spot or blame, but that it should be, so far as human infirmity could allow it to become, as free from all suspicion.
  • The way to do complete justice indeed, is to let in the one side, without prejudicing the other.
  • Courts of justice cautiously abstain from deciding more than what the immediate point submitted to their consideration requires.
    • Sir John Nicholl, Goods of King George HI., deceased (1822), 1 St. Tr. (N. S.) 1278.
  • This statute is indeed as obscure a one as any in the statute-book : it is difficult to ascertain its true meaning. Therefore I do not chuse to give any direct opinion about its extent; unless it should become absolutely necessary for me to do so.
  • I am not, as I consider, to decide cases in favour of fools or idiots, but in favour of ordinary English people, who understand English when they see it, and are not deceived by any difference in type, but who have before them a very plain statement.
    • Jessel, M.R., Singer Manufacturing Co. v. Wilson (1876), L R. 2 C. D. 447.
  • We do not use to judge of cases by fractions.
    • Finch, L.C.J., Hampden's Case (1637), 3 How. St. Tr. 969.
  • I think it is not best for us to declare our opinions by piece-meals, but upon all the case together, and as you are a stranger to the return, so are we; and there be many precedents and acts of Parliament not printed, which we must see.
    • Hyde, C.J., Proceedings on Habeas Corpus—Sir T. Darnel and others (1627), 3 How. St. Tr. 31.
  • No system of judicature can be suggested in which occasionally failure to insure complete justice may not arise.
    • Hawkins, J., The Queen v. Miles (1890), L. R. 24 Q. B. 433.
  • It has been often said that Courts of justice have nothing to do with what are called principles of honour, and there is a well-known case in the books, with which those who practise in the Courts are veryfamiliar, in which, upon a counsel saying to Lord Thurlow, " Your lordship must think in point of honour" so and so, Lord Thurlow said, "Upon that ground you must apply to the person himself; I do not give any opinion upon that subject."
    • Lord Cranworth, Smiths. Kay (1859), 7 H. L. Cas. 773.
  • Equity in its general sense is that quality in the transactions of mankind which accords with natural justice, or with honesty and right. . . . But in its juridical sense, that is to say, as administered by the Courts, equity embraces a jurisdiction much less wide than the principles of natural justice; for there are many matters of natural justice which the Courts have wholly unprovided for, partly from the difficulty of framing rules to meet them and partly from the doubtful policy of attempting to give a legal sanction to duties of so-called imperfect obligation, such as charity, justice and kindness.
    • Snell, Eq. Part I., Ch. 1, p. 1.
  • Upon your honour, sir! pray speak by your honesty.
    • Hyde, C.J., Turner's Case (1664), 6 How. St. Tr. 596.
  • If we were sitting in a court of honour, our decision might be different.
    • Fry, L.J., In re Cawley & Co.; Ex parte Hallett (1889), 58 L. J. Rep. C. D. 645.
  • Where a real ground is laid, the Court will take care that justice is done to the defendant as well as to the plaintiff.

  • We think the conscience of the case is entirely on your side.
  • A man may judge impartially even in his own cause.
    • Lord Mansfield, Rex v. Cowle (1759), 2 Burr. Part IV., p. 863.
  • It is of the last importance that the maxim that no man is to be a judge in his own cause should be held sacred. And that is not to be confined to a cause in which he is a party, but applies to a cause in which he has an interest.
    • Lord Campbell, Dimes v. Proprietors of the Grand Junction Canal and others (1852), 3 H. L. Cas. 993.
  • As to any inconveniences that may be suggested from imagination, " the keeping strictly to the rule of not permitting a man to be judge in his own cause," is of more consequence than any such supposed inconveniences can weigh against.
    • Lee, C.J., Rex v. Inhabitants of Great Chart (1742), Burrow (Settlement Cases), 197.
  • The maxim " that no man shall be a judge in his own cause," is founded on the palpable inconsistency between the situations of party and Judge, which must prevent the decisions of any one uniting both characters from being satisfactory, even though they should be perfectly just.
    • Talfourd, J., Brownlow v. Egerton (1854), 23 L. J. Rep. Part 5 (N. S.) Ch., p. 361.
  • Of course the rule is very plain, that no man can be plaintiff or prosecutor in any action, and at the same time sit in judgment to decide in that particular case, either in his own case, or in any case where he brings forward the accusation or complaint in which the order is made.
    • Cotton, L.J., Leeson v. General Council of Medical Education and Registration (1889), L. R. 43 C. D. 379.
  • Interference with the course of justice by a stranger to the suit, a high public injury.
    • Skipworth's Case (1866), L. R. 3.
  • Olaus Magnus (de Gentibus Septentrionalibus) tells a like story of a northern king, who was hanged in pursuance of his own sentence: But it don't appear that he was afterwards made a saint.
    • Year-book of 8 H. 6., p. 197, n.
  • It is exceedingly desirable that justice should be administered by persons who could not be suspected of any, even indirectly, interested motive.
    • Mellor, J., Reg. v. Allan (1864), 4 B. & S. 915; 33 L. J. Mag. Cas. 98.
  • Nothing can be more important than to maintain intact the principle that a man shall not be a judge in his own cause, and to preserve every tribunal which has to adjudicate upon the rights, or status, or property of any of Her Majesty's subjects from any suspicion of partiality.
    • Davey, L.J., Allinson v. General Council of Medical Education and Registration (1894), L. R. [1894], 1 Q. B. p. 764.
  • In the administration of justice, whether by a recognised legal Court or by persons who, although not a legal public Court, are acting in a similar capacity, public policy requires that, in order that there should be no doubt about the purity of the administration, any person who is to take part in it should not be in such a position that he might be suspected of being biassed.
  • The first maxim of a free State is, that the laws be made by one set of men, and administered by another; in other words, that the legislative and judicial characters be kept separate.
    • Archdeacon Paley, "Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy", Bk. 6, c. 8.
  • The judicial ought to be kept entirely distinct from the legislative and executive power in the State. This separation is necessary both to secure the independence of the judicial functions and to prevent their being influenced by the interests of party or by the voice of the people.
  • No one can have greater respect for the independence of the legislative power than I : but legislation does not mean finance, criticism of the administration, or ninety-nine out of the hundred things with which in England the Parliament occupies itself. The legislature should legislate, i.c., construct grand laws on scientific principles of jurisprudence, but it must respect the independence of the Executive as it desires its own independence to be respected. It must not criticise the Government, and, as its legislative labours are essentially of a scientific kind, there can be no reason why its debates should be reported."
    • Napoleon Bonaparte, to Sieves, quoted by Sir J. Seeley in "Introduction to Political Science," 216.
  • The administration of justice should not only be chaste, but should not even be suspected.
    • Blac. Comm. Bk. 3, Ch. 25, p. 380.
  • It is always difficult, as it seems to me, for a man to decide between his duty and his interests; that is acknowledged upon all hands.
    • Cave, J., In re Marten (1888), L. R. 21 Q. B. 34.
  • Quant al Judge & Officer, le general regie prise en nostre Livers, est, lou le Court ad jurisdiction, nul action gist vers le Judge ou Officer : " No action will lie against a judge of record for any matter done by him in the exercise of his judicial functions."
    • Powel, J., Gwinne v. Poole (1692), Lutw. 935,1560.
  • This freedom from action and question at the suit of an individual is given by the law to the Judges, not so much for their own sake as for the sake of the public, and for the advancement of justice, that being free from actions they may be free in thought and independent in judgment, as all who are to administer justice ought to be. And it is not to be supposed beforehand that those who are selected for the administration of justice will make an ill use of the authority vested in them. Even inferior justices, and those not of record, cannot be called in question for an error in judgment, so long as they act within the bounds of their jurisdiction.3 In the imperfection of human nature8 it is better, even, that an individual should occasionally suffer a wrong,* than that the general course of justice should be impeded and fettered by constant and perpetual restraints and apprehensions on the part of those who are to administer it.6 Corruption is quite another matter; so, also, are neglect of duty and misconduct in it. For these, I trust, there is and always will be some due course of punishment by public prosecution.
    • Lord Tenterden, C.J., Garnett v. Ferrand (1827), 6 B. & C. 624, 625.

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