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
18 July 2011

When Menzi Simelani was appointed head of the NPA we labelled it “An Appalling Choice”. We said it was the stuff of which our worst nightmares are made. We said at the time, the real problem, among many others, was that Simelane had said he believed the NPA head must bow to executive authority, i.e. the president, when it comes to making decisions. On the contrary, the Constitution is explicit that the office of the NPA does not bow to anyone. It bows only to the “Constitution and the law”. But now we know that Simelane not only does not see South Africa’s ultimate law as necessarily binding. He is indeed now meddling in it. – Stephen Grootes at Daily Maverick

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