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
14 October 2017

Why courts decide

The abuse complained of in that case was that one of the accused persons had been incited by an informer and a customs officer to commit the offences in question and had lured him into the court’s jurisdiction. The court in Latif held that it was for a court to consider whether the abuse complained of was such as to justify a stay of proceedings. Mr Mpshe assigned to himself the role reserved for courts. If he had had proper regard to the decision in Latif, he would not have used it to justify the decision to discontinue the prosecution. Thus, he ignored relevant material such as the relevant dicta in Zuma, Latif and the appeal court judgment in HKSAR. The courts in the latter two cases were emphatic that allegations of abuse of process were within the remit of the trial court.

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