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Law, Equity & Justice

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French Protests - Credit - Michelle Guimarães

Laws are intended to achieve justice. But as we know this is not always the case. Historically, for the African American communities, the law in the USA was not necessarily practiced to provide any justice at all but instead to oppress and reprimand. Laws are built on common law and general societal rules to adequately protect the land and people that dwell on the land. Without laws society could become chaotic without proper structure and boundaries. In a world where anything goes, how are things governed and managed so people are not taken advantage of, so the land is managed appropriately? The short answer, it wouldn’t work. Laws are a requirement for a civilized world, especially in the modern world, where technology dominates the day to day activities and tech predators are lurking to take advantage of the less tech savvy. New laws are needed to manage the new digital world, to set rules on what is now deemed lawful and unlawful behaviour.

Equity is about judgement, it is about doing the right thing at the right time. It typically applies in the courts as equity permits judges to deviate away from the legal principle in order to promote justice. So, it often doesn’t match up with the law, but is the equitable thing to do. In reality equity usually requires the support from more than one source to make an appropriate judgement on what is deemed as equitable. It is the natural order of things, how things ought to be and in essence, equity serves justice, remedying the deficiencies of the law.

Justice is fairness. It is about getting the right outcome from a bad situation, giving persons their due. Justice and equity tend to go hand in hand. As to get the right outcome there needs to be some form of equitable decisions, especially when the law does not match up with justice and fairness. Often what is lawful is not fair, at least for the injured party or victim.  But equity, does not in all cased support justice. Because equity often departs from the principles of legality, sometimes this go against what is required for justice. Sometime resorting to equity instead of the strict application of the law may result in injustice.

There is an ongoing debate around the issues that exist related to social justice and social equity. It involves the conversation that more justice and equity need to exist within deprived and marginalised communities. It is clear that the law serves the wide community. But there is a genesis concept that the law does not serve the deprived and marginalized communities in the same way; and for this reason, these communities require more social justice and more social equity for them to develop. Early theory is that there is a disproportional distribution of wealth and services. This includes the legal services, law enforcement protection nor the equitable services of the courts. The courts have often been accused of not provided the same legal or equitable rights to deprived and marginalized communities as it does. to wealthier communities.

It is recorded that there is a fundamental imbalance that exists across the world. From the beginning, countries set themselves up to own and colonize other countries; control their natural resources, control their monetary systems, control their infrastructure, their markets and economies and ultimately their development. Because of the capitalism that exists, it means that some countries can dominate the world, while others continue to struggle to develop, even though they are rich by default because of the natural resources; capitalism means that these resources are taken away and given to the richer countries for them to utilize and further increase their wealth.

John Rawls, Theory of Justice (1971) underlined the principle approach to alleviating inequity which is still relevant today, which was to target the most disadvantaged, focusing on the specific needs and prioritizing them effectively. To alleviate multi-dimensional poverty with overlapping deprivations, by meeting the needs of the most central and most disadvantaged areas first. The ideology behind it, is that once the central the areas are addressed the other areas will be uplifted and will gradually improve. Another perspective is to look at the deep-rooted problem of imbalance in the world, making alterations in the way that wealth is distributed, for governments to be held account as to where natural resources end up and have clear outlines as to how countries, economies and societies are benefited.

This page was last updated on 08, February, 2022

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Law, Equity & Justice Resources

Human Rights Lawyers

All Lives Matter

Law – The rules for society, enforced by government, the courts and law enforcement agencies. 

Equity – Remedies the deficiencies in law. Making judgements to do the right thing. 

Justice – Fairness and getting the right outcome from bad situations. 

Social Justice and Social Equity – More equity and more justice for deprived and marginalised communities.