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
18 May 2021

Innocent until proven guilty

Although witnesses before the Commission may not assert the rights in section 35(1) and (3) which are reserved for arrested and accused persons, those witnesses may invoke the rights guaranteed by section 12 of the Constitution.  The latter provision protects, among others, the right to freedom and security of the person which, on the authority of Ferreira, includes the privilege against self-incrimination. It is evident from this analysis that a statutory provision that compels witnesses to give self-incriminating evidence would be inconsistent with section 12 of the Constitution.  As a result, when that statute is interpreted, the obligation imposed on courts by section 39(2) of the Constitution is triggered. The Commissions Act is such a statute.

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