Adversarial proceedings in common law jurisdictions tend to exclude the victim of crime. Although victim impact statements provide some role for victims following conviction but before sentencing, such statements may not influence the actual sentencing outcome, despite allowing for a therapeutic experience that may encourage the restoration of the victim. The introduction of victim lawyers across certain common law jurisdictions, including England and Wales, the United States and Australia, allows victims to retain private counsel to represent their interests alongside those of the state, from pretrial hearings and potentially through to appeal. By comparison, various civil law jurisdictions following an adversarial trial process, including Sweden, have long allowed such representation. This article provides a comparative assessment of the rise of victim lawyers in common law jurisdictions, arguing that access to private counsel is an important development in criminal justice that allows for the expression of the agency of the victim as a significant stakeholder in adversarial systems of justice.
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