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 September 2010

Criteria used by JSC when considering judicial appointments

ISSUED BY: JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION

SUMMARY OF THE CRITERIA USED BY THE JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION WHEN CONSIDERING CANDIDATES FOR JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS

At its Special Sitting held, in Johannesburg on 10 September 2010, the Judicial Service Commission resolved, after a lengthy debate and a review of the Guidelines that had been adopted in 1998, to publish the criteria used when considering candidates for judicial appointments. This decision is in line with the JSC’s principle that the process of judicial appointments should be open and transparent to the public so as to enhance public trust in the judiciary.

The following criteria are used in the interview of candidates, and in the evaluation exercise during the deliberations by the members of the Commission:

Criteria stated in the Constitution

1. Is the particular applicant an appropriately qualified person?
2. Is he or she a fit and proper person, and
3. Would his or her appointment help to reflect the racial and gender composition of South Africa?

Supplementary Criteria

1. Is the proposed appointee a person of integrity?
2. Is the proposed appointee a person with the necessary energy and motivation?
3. Is the proposed appointee a competent person?
(a) Technically competent
(b) Capacity to give expression to the values of the Constitution
4. Is the proposed appointee an experienced person?
(a) Technically experienced
(b) Experienced in regard to values and needs of the community
5. Does the proposed appointee possess appropriate potential?
6. Symbolism. What message is given to the community at large by a particular appointment?

Issued by the Judicial Service Commission

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