Building Institutions to Address Miscarriages of Justice in England and Wales: ‘Mission Accomplished’?

29 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2013 Last revised: 12 Sep 2013

See all articles by Carole I. McCartney

Carole I. McCartney

Northumbria University; University of Leeds - School of Law; Bond University

Stephanie Roberts

University of Westminster - School of Law

Date Written: 2012


The revelation of miscarriages of justice can lead a criminal justice system to a crisis point, which can be capitalized upon to engineer legal reforms. In England and Wales, these reforms have included the establishment of three bodies: the Court of Criminal Appeal, the Criminal Cases Review Commission, and the Forensic Regulator. With differing remits, these courts are all intended to address miscarriages of justice. After outlining the genesis of these bodies, we question whether these three institutions are achieving their specific goals. This Article then outlines the benefits accrued from the establishment of these bodies and the controversies that surround their operation. At present, both individually and collectively, these institutions represent a partial solution to miscarriages of justice. However, this Article argues that calls for a greater focus upon “actual” innocence made in light of this partial success are misguided. Such a refocusing may have the unintended consequence of fostering a climate where miscarriages of justice flourish. The rights of all suspects need protection, and due process concerns have the concomitant benefit of protecting the innocent from wrongful conviction. A blinkered approach to “miscarriages” will not necessarily assist the wrongfully convicted and may even increase their number.

Keywords: miscarriages of justice, wrongly convicted, innocence, Court of Criminal Appeal, Criminal Cases Review Commission, Forensic Regulator

Suggested Citation

McCartney, Carole I. and Roberts, Stephanie, Building Institutions to Address Miscarriages of Justice in England and Wales: ‘Mission Accomplished’? (2012). University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 80, 2012, Available at SSRN:

Carole I. McCartney

Northumbria University ( email )

City Campus East
208, City Campus East-1
Newcastle upon tyne, NE1 8ST
United Kingdom

University of Leeds - School of Law ( email )

Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

Bond University ( email )

Gold Coast, QLD 4229

Stephanie Roberts (Contact Author)

University of Westminster - School of Law ( email )

4-12 Little Titchfield Street
London, W1W 7UW
United Kingdom

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