find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Judicial appointments shrouded in mystery: A-G

Judicial appointments shrouded in mystery: A-G

THE CONTROVERSIAL topic of judicial appointments was a central focus of the Bar Association of Queensland’s Annual Conference on the weekend, with federal Attorney General Robert McClelland…

THE CONTROVERSIAL topic of judicial appointments was a central focus of the Bar Association of Queensland’s Annual Conference on the weekend, with federal Attorney General Robert McClelland calling for greater transparency and consultation.

In his speech, McClelland described the current system, under which judicial appointments are left solely to the discretion of the executive, as an “ad hoc” process surrounded by mystery.

“[Under the current system], the public has to take it on trust that appointments have been made on merit and suitability rather than personal or political affiliation and that consultation beyond a small circle of insiders has occurred,” he said.

According to McClelland, enormous responsibility rests on the heads of those in charge of judicial selection.

“The role of the executive, in choosing who will be responsible for ensuring the administration of justice according to our law, impacts directly on public confidence in the courts and their decisions,” he said.

He believes that public dissatisfaction with the current system could lead to a diminution of the status of the judiciary, and more broadly, a reduction in public confidence in the courts and the judicial system.

McClelland spoke about the newly introduced system in the Federal Magistrates Court as an example of the ways in which transparency can be increased. For upcoming appointments in five states, the public will have the opportunity to submit nominations which will then be assessed by a selection panel who will prepare a shortlist. Shortlisted candidates will have the opportunity to meet personally with the panel to put forward their case, and the panel will then recommend a small number of candidates for each position to McClelland. McClelland in turn will propose appointments to the government.

He made it clear, however, that while a process incorporating face-to-face meetings might be suitable for the Federal Magistrates Court, where candidates tend to be less well known, it wouldn’t be suitable for High Court appointments where candidates are likely to be serving judges, well known to the government, the judiciary and the public.

“I am firmly committed to undertaking extensive consultation on High Court appointments,” he said. “[But] I have previously made clear my view that face-to-face meetings with candidates are inappropriate for appointments to the High Court.”

McClelland also touched on another alternative; to adopt a process in Australia similar to that which has been recently implemented in the UK. Under the UK system, an independent Judicial Appointments Commission prepares a list of recommended candidates and the Lord Chancellor is required to make an appointment from the list.

While not expressing his own views on the appropriateness of such a system in Australia, he said the response from the UK to date has been mixed.

“There have been criticisms that it is overly bureaucratic and the whole process is unreasonably intrusive as well as taking too long. As a result, concerns have arisen that the best candidates have not put themselves forward that there have been delay with the appointment of judges,” he said.

“Naturally, setting up a whole new government agency for the purposes of assisting with judicial appointments would not be a step taken lightly. There may well be as much controversy associated with selecting the selectors as with the judicial appointments themselves.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Judicial appointments shrouded in mystery: A-G
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...