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
1 December 2022

On bad faith

The correct approach to determining the existence of bad faith is therefore one that recognises that bad faith exists only when the office-bearer acted with the specific intent to deceive, harm or prejudice another person or by proof of serious or gross recklessness that reveals a breakdown of the orderly exercise of authority so fundamental that absence of good faith can be reasonably inferred and bad faith presumed. This is so because the mischief sought to be rooted out by rendering bad faith so severely punishable, particularly within the public sector space, is to curb abuse of office which invariably has prejudicial consequences for others.

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