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
8 March 2007

One day they will have full democracy too…

MPs in the British House of Commons yesterday delivered a historic vote in favour of a wholly-elected House of Lords, setting themselves up for a confrontation with peers that could lead to the most radical change to the upper house for 96 years.

It is by far not certain that this plan will actually be implemented, so Britain may still be stuck with an unelected upper house of Parliament for years to come. If Zimbabwe had such a constitutional arrangements, everyone and his aunty would have had a fit. But of course, Britain is seen as “civilised” (why that would be, I cannot tell), so having an unelected house of Parliament is not seen as undemocratic.

A few years ago when the Commons voted to lower the age of consent for same sex sexual activity to bring it in line with heterosexual sex the Lords vetoed the Act, so it is not as if they have no power or never use their power. But then, what does one expect of a country whose leader has been a cheerleader for George W Bush?

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