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
13 December 2012

But in townships and shack settlements, there are very real threats to freedom of speech — the pressure to conform comes not from the fear of ridicule but from the use of force by local power-holders. One feature of democracy here about which we rarely talk is the extent to which our residential areas are dominated by particular parties. The problem is not as great as it was in 1994, when parties won more than 90% of the vote in many areas, but it has not disappeared. For several reasons, this is far more of a problem in areas where the poor live: often political bosses hold sway and they do not take kindly to competition. They also often have links to local police. And so challenging power-holders in the areas where most citizens live is likely to bring far worse consequences than ridicule — it may mean a threat of violence, in some cases from the police. In these areas, criticising the government is indeed brave and independent. – Steven Friedman in Business Day

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