Almost everyone, in real life or thanks to courtroom TV dramas, is aware of the main symbol of our justice system. It can be found in and around many court buildings in the country (and most notably on top of the Old Bailey criminal court in London). This is the statue of ‘Lady Justice’ -blindfolded and holding her scales and sword. She might be the most famous woman in law, but what does she represent?
Lady Justice is blindfolded. A court of law commences a trial of a dispute with no prior knowledge of it and complete impartiality, hence the blindfold over Lady Justice’s eyes. This is designed to symbolise that justice should be rendered “without passion or prejudice” to ensure a result which is fair.
The scales in Lady Justice’s hands are the scales of justice. Each party during a trial presents its evidence to the court (placing it on the scales of justice). The scales then slowly begin to tip one way or the other. At the end of the trial, the winner is the party which has tipped the scale in their favour.
The sword which Lady Justice carries is designed to advance the concept that justice can be swift and final, swords being historic symbols of authority and power. The sword is also designed to show that the justice system has the power to enforce the laws created by parliament on behalf of society and that all citizens (and government officials) are bound by the law in the same way.
Lady Justice is designed to represent the perfect running of our justice system – is what she represents actually the reality today, or more of an ideal?