17 SAcLJ 1 (2005)
Singapore Academy of Law Annual Lecture 2004: Impartiality in Judging and the Passions of Mankind

handle is hein.journals/saclj17 and id is 7 raw text is: SINGAPORE ACADEMY OF LAW ANNUAL LECTURE 2004:
IMPARTIALITY IN JUDGING AND THE
PASSIONS OF MANKIND
The Right Honourable Dame Sian Elias, Chief Justice of New
Zealand, delivered the Eleventh Singapore Academy of Law
Annual Lecture on 3 November 2004. In her speech, the Chief
Justice made the point that impartiality in judging is the
critical condition upon which democratic societies accept the
exercise of authority by non-elected judges. While impartiality
and the appearance of it are important, the emphasis on
appearance should be kept in check. Ultimately, the obligation
to bring an open mind to judging is the individual
responsibility of the judge.
Sian ELIAS, GNZM
LLB (Hons) (Auckland), JSM (Stanford),
Chief Justice of New Zealand.
The law has so watchful an eye to the pure and unbiased
administration of justice, that it will never trust the
passions of mankind in the decision of any matter of right.1
1      Impartiality in judging is the essential attribute of the judge. It is
the burden of the judicial oath common to my jurisdiction and to yours.
Its observance ensures that, when judging, the only allegiance of the judge
is to do right according to law to the parties.
2      Why impartiality is fundamental was explained by Lord
Denning MR:2
Justice must be rooted in confidence: and confidence is destroyed when
right-minded people go away thinking: The judge was biased.
The demonstration of impartiality in judging serves a more important
function than to assure the parties that the judge has no personal interest
in the outcome. It is the condition on which a democratic society accepts
the exercise of authority by judges who are not elected and not directly
responsible to the elected branches of government. Since the assurance of
constitutional government requires access to independent courts, the
1   Lord Mansfield in Hesketh v Braddock (1766) 3 Burr 1847 at 1856; 97 ER 1130 at
1135.
2   Metropolitan Properties Co (FGC) Ltd v Lannon [ 1969] 1 QB 577 at 599.

(2005) 17 SAcLJ

Annual Lecture 2004

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