find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Chief Justice scrutinises personality and justice

Chief Justice scrutinises personality and justice

THE Chief Justice of Australia's highest court has scrutinised how an advocate's personality and personal values impact their administration of justice.

THE Chief Justice of Australia’s highest court has scrutinised how an advocate’s personality and personal values impact their administration of justice. 

Speaking at the NSW Bar Association bench and bar dinner, High Court Chief Justice Robert French told the legal profession that “who we are” is relevant because “it properly informs our advocacy and our judging”. 

He questioned how relevant who a judge is to the administration of justice. “We regard it, and rightly regard it, as fundamental that judging requires the reality and appearance of impartiality on the part of the judge.”

But the Chief Justice added that the law is a human institution, and that “advocacy is the human art of communication and persuasion”.

In his speech about ego and identity in the administration of justice, the judge said the question ‘don’t you know who I am?’ is fraught with difficulty because it usually poses the implication that “the person asking it stands outside a framework of rules or conventions applicable to the ordinary run of humanity”. But, the judge added in reference to the judiciary and advocates: “Does it matter who you are?”

He said a judge's personality or personal values should have no impact on the outcome of a case. “There should be no basis upon which a reasonable person could say that a judge's conduct or decision in a case is affected by personal interests or agendas or extraneous influences.”

But in his assurance that the judging requires impartiality, Chief Justice French said “who you are as a person can properly inform you advocacy”, assuming the essential requisites of legal knowledge, high integrity, diligence, and good oral and written communication skills. 

“There are some advocates who have a strong belief in the justice of the case in which they appear because it reflects their personal values. That of itself is not necessarily a bad thing although it can be an impediment to critical judgment. 

“But there is a small subset of such advocates who seem to think that it is enough to be on the side of the angels and that rigorous consideration of the law is a black letter approach, which somehow pollutes the moral purity of their case. They are seldom of much help to anyone,” Chief Justice French said. 

But, he said, who we are is relevant because it properly informs our advocacy and our judging. “How we do the job, according to well-established standards of integrity and excellence, is much more important.”

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

Chief Justice scrutinises personality and justice
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
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 & ...