The Kafkaesque Nightmare of British Justice

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If you think the criminal justice system is fine and there’s no need to worry as very few things really go wrong, you should take a look at this. It’s the reality for some people who are actually driven mad by what they’re expected to endure. See some of the consequences set out in this article by Jenny McCartney published in UnHerd.

Don’t think it won’t happen to you or your family – that’s a bet I wouldn’t want to make. And if it does happen to you, you’d better hope someone will uncover the problem and get something done to help you.

“Kafka, like Orwell and Dickens, belongs to that select band of authors whose name has become an adjective. “Kafkaesque” is a term most often used to describe an overweening bureaucracy or system that traps an unwitting individual in an illogical, nightmarish maze, governed by complex forces beyond his or her control. I suspect that as Kafka is more widely and heavily evoked as an adjective, the detail of what he wrote is less frequently considered. We think we know what he says. We’ve got the gist.

There is, however, perhaps no other author who catches so keenly the confusion and distress of individuals who have lost all confidence — and sense of their own rights — in a system that appears to be operating according to its own unknowable rules, which are riddled with failings so familiar that they are now factored into expectations.

The Trial, in particular, is acutely relevant to our current age, in which our criminal justice system — once internationally renowned — is in a deepening state of crisis. Meanwhile, away from courts, informal ‘trials’ with inconstant rules and outcomes have become a frequent feature of both social media and company policy.

These latter ‘trials’ — although they lack legal force — nonetheless have the power to ruin a life: to destroy an individual’s reputation, to sink current and future prospects of employment, and in some especially bleak cases to push those involved towards suicide.”


Jill Canvin


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