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
27 November 2019

on Margaret Thatcher

As early as 1981, one of Thatcher’s advisers complained that she bullied her weaker colleagues: “You criticise colleagues in front of each other and in front of their officials. . . . You give little praise or credit.” “If this is the best you can do,” she told Geoffrey Howe, a long-abused Cabinet minister, “then I’d better send you to hospital and deliver the statement myself.” On one occasion, when she became particularly “strident,” the Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had to remind her, “I am not a member of your government, I am the head of a sovereign nation!” But she could just as easily rebuke entire nations, genders, or both at once. “You men, you’re all so weak,” she spat at some Dutch representatives after an episode of failed European negotiation.

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