The archive provides comprehensive documentation of the work undertaken by Justice, primarily in the fields of administrative law, civil justice, colonial and Commonwealth affairs and criminal justice. There are some 169 files of correspondence, minutes, reports, memoranda and other papers generated by the various committees through which Justice investigated and reported on questions of law reform. Oversight of these committees was undertaken by the Executive Committee, which itself reported to Council on a regular basis. Minutes of meetings of both bodies are available, accompanied by files covering conferences at national, European and international level, and relations with the International Commission of Jurists and its many related organisations overseas. The collection of subject files in detail as follows:
Correspondence (1956-1985) being files that relate primarily to the establishment and early history of the organisation, and relations between the key founder members Peter Benenson, Tom Sargant (Secretary 1957-1982) and Hartley Shawcross (Chairman 1957-1972) (details of the casework undertaken by Justice are limited and are to be found amongst the papers of specific committees; one exception is a file of correspondence of Tom Sargant with many convicted prisoners during the late 1960s, which includes letters from the Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley).
Council and Executive Committee (1957-1978) being a complete series of minute books and files covering the work of both bodies and including minutes of Annual General Meetings; the first minute book is particularly valuable in documenting the process through which a permanent organisation was created out of an ad hoc campaign and in highlighting the overseas orientation of much of the early work.
Standing Committee on Administrative Law (1957-1989) including files of the investigation into the Scandanavian Ombudsman system, files on the extension of the Ombudsman system into the arena of local government and material on systems of compensation and freedom of information.
Standing Committee on Civil Justice (1967-1980) including files covering family property, passports, homemade wills, and parental rights and duties in custody suits, as well as reports from the early 1970s on insider trading, company law and bankruptcy and papers on no-fault compensation. Correspondence includes two letters from Gerald Gardiner (Lord Chancellor) dated 5 June and 10 November 1969.
Standing Committee on Colonial (later Commonwealth) Affairs (1952-1979) being files of correspondence and project papers, many from overseas lawyers, compiled by Tom Sargant (the series of country files should be seen as a complementary source). Correspondence includes letters from Lord Denning dated 23 November 1959 and 22 September 1960; Tony Benn dated 22 December 1960; Alec Douglas Home dated 20 July 1964. The file 1961-1965 includes papers on the proposal for a Commonwealth Convention and Court.
Standing Committee on Criminal Justice (1960-1982) being files relating to the criminal prosecution including one bundle and several individual files on the appeals process. There are also letters from Geoffrey Howe dated 3 January 1973; Roy Jenkins dated 16 June 1975; Lord Gardiner dated 10 August, 2 September 1972, 15 March 1977; Harriet Harman dated 18 December 1978.
Ad hoc committees (1950-1986) including files on the Royal Commission on the Police, the Widgery Committee on Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings, the Winn Committee on Personal Injuries Litigation and the Royal Commission on Trade unions and Employers' Associations and a number of files are also included here in instances where it was not possible to identify the origins of a committee. There are also 24 files within the archive documenting work into the law regarding evidence. Each focuses on a particular aspect of the law, ranging from child witnesses and confessions to hearsay and previous convictions, and includes the memoranda produced by Justice on each topic. Two files cover the background to the implementation of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme in 1964. Three files relate to research in the early 1980s which identified the need for a legal right to compensation for wrongful imprisonment. There are also letters from Lord Gardiner dated 3 April and 9 September 1958, 24 February 1959, 10 March, 28 March and 2 May 1969, 8 July 1980; Leon Brittan dated 10 November 1980; Lord Denning 10 March 1960; Clive Jenkins dated 25 March 1964.
Joint bodies (1959-1991) including files relating to work done in cooperation with such bodies as the Howard League for Penal Reform and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders and five files of papers consulted by the Review Committee into administrative law plus the final report, Administrative justice: some necessary reforms. There are letters from Lord Gardiner dated 23 January 1967, 12 January 1971 and 5 June 1973; Geoffrey Howe dated 27 April 1967; prime minister Edward Heath dated 4 September 1972.
Conferences (1965-1984) being papers relating to the Annual Members' Conferences for the years 1967-1969, 1974-1976 and 1980-1983. Such conferences were used as a forum for discussion amongst the wider membership of topical legal issues and as such, these files duplicate the subject matter of various committee investigations. The majority of the conference files document relations between Justice and the other European Sections of the ICJ, particularly the French Section, Libre Justice. The first joint meeting with Libre Justice was held in May 1958 to discuss human rights and the rule of law in colonial territories. Evidence of this partnership and exchange of ideas begins to occur in the archive with the late 1960s and an almost complete series of files for such meetings is available over the period 1970-1984.
International Commission of Jurists (1957-1981) including files covering conferences on the broad theme of rule of law held in New Delhi, India in January 1959 and Colombo, Ceylon in January 1966 (see also the Standing Committee on Colonial Affairs for a conference in Lagos, Nigeria, in January 1961). The official documentation of the Colombo conference includes an important series of surveys, undertaken by the ICJ's Secretariat, regarding the rule of law in Australia, Burma, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Summary reports of the ICJ's activities during the 1970s are also available, as well as press releases and some correspondence between Geneva and London.
Country files (1954-1983) being 79 files, largely compiled by Tom Sargant, arranged alphabetically by country and reflecting two interrelated aspects of Justice's work, namely its concern to uphold the rule of law in the British colonies and dependent territories and its partnership with numerous overseas members, branches and national sections of the ICJ. Events in South Africa are covered in some depth over three decades and the most significant file focuses on the political trials of opponents of apartheid. Schedules of the charges faced by the defendants in the first Treason Trial are of special significance. Similarly the aftermath of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 is documented by file U DJU/11/31, which contains several papers on the rule of law under the Kadar regime drawn up by the ICJ, as well as detailed tables of those convicted for their part in the uprising. File U DJU/11/55 covers the 1959 state of emergency in Nyasaland and includes a report compiled for Justice by L J Blom Cooper after visiting Nyasaland and correspondence with successive Secretaries of State for the Colonies. In total there are some six files relating to Central Africa, spanning the period until 1981. The administration of justice in the Seychelles is documented by files U DJU/11/60-62. Four files document the formation of a branch in the colony in Hong Kong in 1965 and research undertaken in the late 1960s into the applicability of the Ombudsman system. There are also files for Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malta, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal and Spain. There are letters from Lord Gardiner dated 5 March and 15 March 1965.