The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law provides a detailed overview of international law jurisprudence on the right to a fair trial. The authors both practise international law at the English Bar and teach the subject as academics.

As the authors point out in their introduction, the right to a fair trial lies at the heart of the human rights regime because, without it, other rights are at risk. Furthermore (as the authors also note), the need for vigilance in its enforcement is underscored by the fact that breaches of fair trial protections can be indicators of some pernicious or dehumanising government agenda that might otherwise be difficult to detect.

The centrepiece of the protection of the right to a fair trial in international law is Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – which also formed the starting point for Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The book is structured to reflect 13 identified components of the right to a fair trial under Article 14 of the ICCPR, with a lengthy introductory chapter dealing with broader themes such as the customary status of the right and interrelationship with other international law protections.

Many of the specific rights set out in Article 14 of the ICCPR are focused on the right to a fair trial in the context of criminal proceedings and the book, accordingly, is focused on fair trial protections as they arise in criminal proceedings. That is not to say that the book will have relevance only for international law practitioners dealing with criminal proceedings: the more general components of the right to a fair trial apply to both civil and criminal proceedings; and some of the component rights that prima facie apply in criminal proceedings can be relevant in the context of civil proceedings. Moreover, the assessment of whether or not a state has complied with fair trial standards can arise in a variety of proceedings and situations, particularly in the context of domestic administrative law challenges.

The book presents a detailed and compendious survey of the various components of the right to a fair trial, with citations from the full range of international fora, from judgments of international courts and ad hoc tribunals to decisions of treaty committees and working groups. The comprehensive overview is particularly helpful, not least in allowing the reader to compare and consider differing approaches to the right to a fair trial across different international fora. Interesting points of overlap and divergence in this respect are also highlighted by the authors.

The layout is generally as helpful as could be hoped for (at least from a practitioner’s perspective). A detailed table of cases/decisions and international instruments is provided at the start of the book. Each chapter is broken down into sub-headings (and, where appropriate, sub-sub-headings) with a detailed contents page allowing for painless navigation. The book is as user-friendly for looking up specific points as for an overview of an unfamiliar topic.

Overall, The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law looks to be a welcome addition to any international law library and, for those undertaking research in relation to fair trial breaches in the criminal law context in particular, the book will be an invaluable resource and stands to establish itself as the first port of call.