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
14 August 2007

Con Court life a drag?

Some people are speculating that the members of the Constitutional Court have recently drifted to the right, but it seems as if the Clerks who assist the learned judges with their research and contribute significantly to the intellectual debates at the Court are less inhibited.

I got hold of the invite below to a party organised by some of the Clerks at the Court. The party was organised in response to the practice in Umlazi, where woman are being forbidden (and in one case stripped naked) from wearing trousers and also in response to the recent murders of lesbian women in Soweto and elsewhere.

Pity some of the (male) judges are not attending as well. Wearing a dress might just help some of the male judges to embrace their (as yet underdeveloped) empathetic side.

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