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4 Victoria U. L. & Just. J. 49 (2014)
Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied

handle is hein.journals/dictum4 and id is 65 raw text is: JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED
PROFESSOR TANIA SOURDIN* AND NAOMI BURSTYNER**
Historical acknowledgements of delays in the justice system often recognise the perspective of the accused or the
disputant, and suggest that for a person seeking justice, the time taken for resolution of their issue is critical
to the justice experience. In essence, these acknowledgements are consistent with more recent research which
has shown that the time taken to deal with a dispute is a, and in many cases the, critical factor in determining
whether or notpeople consider that thejustice system is just and fair. This article considers issues in thejustice
system that are related to timeliness and the interconnectedness of the definition of delay and contends that the
nature of delay in the currentjustice environment is contingent on many aspects and mechanisms utilised by
the modern justice system. The question of whether justice delayed is justice denied appears to depend on
whether delay is inappropriate, out ofproportion or avoidable.
I: INTRODUCTION
William E Gladstone, former British statesman and Prime Minister in the late 1800's,
famously said 'justice delayed is justice denied'. However he was not the first to express this
notion, and it is arguable that its meaning has been articulated in many different ways for
thousands of years.' Historical acknowledgements recognise the perspective of the accused
or the disputant, and suggest that for a person seeking justice, the time taken
for resolution of their issue is critical to the justice experience of this person and can
render their treatment wholly 'unjust' in circumstances where finalisation of a dispute takes
'too long'.
In essence, these acknowledgements are consistent with more recent research which has
shown that the time taken to deal with a dispute is a, and in many cases the, critical factor in
determining whether or not people consider that the justice system is just and fair.2
Recent research by the Australian Centre for Justice Innovation's ('The Centre') about
timeliness and justice has taken place in the context of recognition that the justice system
has breadth beyond more formal justice processes that operate in courts and tribunals.
In particular, civil dispute resolution mechanisms include many processes and institutions
which are focused on justice, such as external dispute resolution ('EDR'), broader alternative
dispute resolution ('ADR'), as well as the sort of 'everyday justice' that is used when disputes
are either avoided or resolved directly.3 This article considers issues in the justice system that
are related to timeliness and the interconnectedness of the definition of delay, whilst also
Director, Australian Centre for Justice Innovation, Monash University.
** Senior Researcher, Australian Centre for Justice Innovation, Monash University.
The idea is said to have first been expressed in the biblical writings of Pirkei Avot 5:8, a section of the Mishnah
(1V century BCE - 2nd century CE) in which it is stated 'Our Rabbis taught: ... [t]he sword comes into the world, because
of justice delayed and justice denied...'; as well as in the Magna Carta of 1215, cl 40 of which reads, '[t]o no one will we
sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.; Martin Luther King Jr also said 'justice too long delayed is justice
denied' in his Letter from BimninghamJail (August 1963).
2 T Sourdin, Mediation in the Supreme and County Courts of Victoria (Australian Centre for Justice Innovation, 2009) 117-18; T
Sourdin, Exploring Civil Pre-Action Requirements: Resolving Disputes Outside Courts (Australian Centre for Justice Innovation,
2012) 127-47.
3 T Sourdin, The Timeliness Project Background Report (Australian Centre for Justice Innovation, 2013).

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