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
31 January 2023

It amounted to an usurpation of the powers of [the Municipal Council] by a political body which, on the papers, does not appear even to have had sight of the documents relevant to the selection process including the findings of the interview panel. In my view, the involvement of the Regional Executive Council of the ANC in the circumstances… constituted an unauthorised and unwarranted intervention in the affairs of the council. It is clear that the councillors of the ANC supinely abdicated to their political party their responsibility to fill the position of the Municipal Manager with the best qualified and best suited candidate on the basis of qualifications, suitability and with due regard to the provisions of the pertinent employment legislation as set out in paragraph 1 of the recruitment policy. This was a responsibility owed to the electorate as a whole and not just to the sectarian interests of their political masters.

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