Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
4 September 2009

Despite all these considerations, Mbeki’s stance on AIDS prevailed for only a time. The overwhelming evidence that emerged that AIDS was devastating communities, coupled with increasingly incontrovertible evidence that ARVs were restoring health and saving lives, the relentless courage of Mbeki’s media critics on AIDS, the TAC and its allies in COSATU, coupled – crucially – with former President Nelson Mandela’s influential intervention all precipitated inner-circle conditions that made it possible to prevail upon Mbeki to permit publicly-funded ARV treatment to be made
available. Unfavourable international focus on President Mbeki’s stance also assisted in breaking the denialist grip on AIDS policy. – Judge Edwin Cameron and Nathan Geffen in The deadly hand of denial: Governance and politically-instigated AIDS denialism in South Africa

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