An effective and coordinated justice sector is critical to demonstrate a State’s commitment and capacity for protecting the rights of its citizens and for resolving disputes fairly and peacefully.

The justice sector comprises many state and non-state institutions that together enable a country to define, protect, and enforce the rights of its citizens and to resolve disputes fairly and peacefully. Upholding these rights for their own sake is a primary responsibility and basic service of the State.

Defining those rights clearly and defending them consistently is also a prerequisite for economic growth. Defined rights will enable individuals and organisations to make investments, enforce contracts, and take business risks. Ensuring rights are equitably defined and applied across a society reduces the likelihood of people pursuing their interests through crime or conflict, builds public confidence in a country’s governance, and enhances political stability.

In developing countries the effectiveness of the justice sector is often impeded by the small numbers of personnel qualified to carry out the demanding roles of judges, prosecutors, and defence lawyers. State justice institutions are concentrated in urban areas, far from the citizens who need their support most. Low capacity inside those institutions and poor coordination between them results in cases being dealt with slowly, inefficiently and often at significant cost to the citizen.

Some parts of society may suffer from discriminatory legislation or low public awareness of their rights. In many countries the majority of the population continue to rely on non-state institutions for efficient and low cost resolution of disputes, but those institutions are often based on values and customs that disadvantage women and children.

In response to these challenges Adam Smith International offers expertise in:

  • Strengthening service delivery: Ministries of Justice, Attorney-General offices, High Judicial Councils, courts, judges, prosecutors, case management systems.
  • Improving access to justice: itinerant judges and courts, legal aid offices, paralegals, referral pathways from non-legal organisations, public awareness raising.
  • Strategic planning: long-term development strategies, capacity building programmes, setting performance targets, monitoring and reporting on progress.
  • Cross-sector coordination: supporting sector working groups, aligning institutional performance objectives, improving coordination of case management.