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
3 June 2019

Public Protector fails to be honest

In the matter before us it transpired that the Public Protector does not fully understand her constitutional duty to be impartial and to perform her functions without fear, favour or prejudice. She failed to disclose in her report that she had a meeting with the Presidency on 25 April 2017 and again on 7 June 2017. As we have already pointed out above, it was only in her answering affidavit that she admitted the meeting on 25 April 2017, but she was totally silent on the second meeting which took place on 7 June 2017. She failed to realise the importance of explaining her actions in this regard, more particularly the last meeting she had with the Presidency. This last meeting is also veiled in obscurity if one takes into account that no transcripts or any minutes thereof have been made available. This all took place under circumstances where she failed to afford the reviewing parties a similar opportunity to meet with her. The Public Protector failed to make a full disclosure when she pretended, in her answering affidavit, that she was acting on advice received with regard to averments relating to economics prior to finalising her report.

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