James Wilde aka Lord Penzance

"The picture of law triumphant and justice prostrate, is not, I am aware, without admirers.

"To me it is a sorry spectacle."

"The spirit of justice does not reside in formalities, or words, nor is the triumph of its administration to be found in successfully picking a way between the pitfalls of technicality.

"After all, the law is, or ought to be, but the handmaid of justice, and inflexibility, which is the most becoming robe of the latter, often serves to render the former grotesque."

Law and Justice Quotations logo

Justice Penzance (1816-1899) in Combe v Edwards.

Penzance's real name was James Wilde but like his contemporaries, he preferred the pomposity of the title given to him by the British peerage system, that of Baron or, when sitting as a law judge, Lord Penzance. The distinction between law and justice is not always easy for the lay person to grasp.

In this quotation from the Law Reports, Justice Penzance warns us that law is the tool of justice and not the other way around. However, as Justice Hawkins wrote in Roberts:

"Legality and oppression are not unknown to run hand in hand."