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
1 March 2013

A few things are going on here. Thing one: hubris. But why dwell on it; who doesn’t when they have the chance? Thing two: nostalgia. When you grew up in a country like this, on the oppressor side of the frontier lines, nostalgia can feel a tad morally problematic. What’s that you miss? The eighties? Oh you liked those, did you? I think part of the recent Rodriguez high around here has been about this condoned nostalgia for an older white generation. Suddenly you can reminisce about which suburb you grew up in, which dances you went to, what music you were listening to, and not really have to mention apartheid. “I grew up in Linden!” “I grew up in Emmarentia!” “We danced at the Lemon Squeezer!” And maybe that’s okay. I’m not intent on having my say on the matter here, one way or the other. Nostalgia is an issue. But not the issue. – Anna Hartford, on attending a Rodriguez concert in Cape Town

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