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
30 December 2009

What went right in 2009

(1) South Africa had another free and fair election (it’s fourth!) without any serious violence and the fourth democratic President was inaugurated soon afterwards.

(2) The government decisively changed direction on HIV/AIDS and President Jacob Zuma appointed a health minister who clearly understands that the problem of HIV needs to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner.

(3) Nkosazana Zuma has begun to change things around at the Department of Home Affairs. A friend of mine received her passport only 4 weeks after submitting her application!

(4) The South African banking system weathered the international financial crisis very well and the SA government did not need to pump billions of dollars into the system as was required by the USA, the UK and some European countries.

(5) A free press and independent electronic media continued to thrive and to present a variety of news, exposes and opinion, sometimes harshly critical of the foibles of the governing party and sometimes singing its praises.

(6) Some members of the tripartite alliance began exposing Julius Malema as the self-serving, headline-grabbing, tenderpreneur that he is.

(7) The selection of a new Chief Justice and four new judges to the Constitutional Court proceeded without unnecessary controversy and several good candidates were appointed to the positions while a certain Judge President were clearly not a serious contender for appointment.

(8) A vibrant civil society continued to thrive and to challenge seemingly unlawful decisions made by the President and y constitutional institutions such as the Judicial Services Commission in various courts across South Africa.

(9) South Africa successfully hosted the Confederations Cup and the various soccer stadiums for 2010 Fifa World Cup were completed on time.

(10) Many South Africans quietly continued to build bridges and build the nation by giving of their time and money to address the poverty and deprivation of fellow South Africans.

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