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
29 September 2022

Dignity, children and dagga

The High Court remarked: “It follows then that criminalising children for cannabis-related offences, even under the guise of prevention and/or deterrence, will have a profound disproportionate negative effect on them.  The criminalisation, moreover, is a form of stigmatisation which is both degrading and invasive.  Children accused of such offences risk being labelled and excluded by their peers in circumstances where as a society we have accepted this type of behaviour”. I agree with the High Court that a child is vulnerable to being stigmatised by her peers and loved ones. This has a direct impact on her sense of self-worth as well as her worth in a social context. Imposing a criminal sanction for the use and/or possession of cannabis on a child, therefore, infringes on her right to dignity.

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