Restorative justice has become a fashionable term both in Canadian and foreign legal and social policy discourse. Restorative justice is certainly not a new idea. In fact, it is foundational to our very ideas about law and conflict resolution. There is, nevertheless, a lack of clarity about the meaning of this term. Often it is used as a catchall phrase to refer to any practice which does not look like the mainstream practice of the administration of justice, particularly in the area of criminal justice. Little attention has been spent attempting to articulate what distinguishes a practice as restorative. Rather, we have been content simply to identify what restorative justice is not - namely two lawyers, a jury and/or judge in a courtroom.
Jennifer Llewellyn & Robert L Howse, "Restorative Justice: A Conceptual Framework" (1999) Report prepared for the Law Commission of Canada [unpublished].