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
15 February 2013

What is it with us looking for a saviour to rise from these streets? In the recent months it has been Cyril Ramaphosa who will save the ANC from itself and us all from Zuma’s government. And if that fails we have the National Development Plan that will fix everything. Like Ramphela and Ramaphosa, the National Development Plan is great. It might be my own pessimism, but in my opinion these are, all three, not (powerfully) shapers of historical outcomes … they are effects, not causes. The NDP is just a piece of paper, an adequate diagnosis and a bundle of good intentions. Ramaphosa is embedded in something much more powerful, and scarier, than he will ever be. Ramphela is a single person with no established political constituency, no party machinery and a reputation for humiliating her senior managers in public (… aside from all those good things I mentioned earlier). Sure, we can hope that she will sweep the ANC’s patronage networks aside and replace it with a meritocracy pure as the driven snow. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. – Nic Borain

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