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Jackson, Hal --- "The Australian Judiciary by Enid Campbell and H.P. Lee" [2002] AltLawJl 92; (2002) 27(5) Alternative Law Journal 252


The Australian Judiciary

by Enid Campbell and H.P. Lee; Cambridge University Press, 2001; $75 hard cover.

There are a number of ways in which a book with this title could be written, but this is neither a sociological study (along the lines of the once 'scandalous' The Politics of the Judiciary by John Griffith) nor a set of contemplative essays (such as Lord Devlin's Hamlyn Lectures 'The Judge', or Michael Kirby's 1983 Boyer Lectures entitled

'The Judges'). Nor is it a magisterial work of biographies and case studies (such as the recent Oxford Companion to The High Court of Australia), nor a collection of anecdotes and personalia (like David Pannick's Judges or Robert Thomson's The Judges) nor a book on judicial ethics (such as those by Thomas and Shetreet).

Rather, as one might expect of a work by Enid Campbell, it is a learned and sober study of the legal background against which judges are appointed, are disciplined or may be removed, the functions which may be described as judicial, principles of judicial conduct in and out of court, mechanisms of protection for judges and of judicial accountability.

Inevitably perhaps, some lengthy discussion of the more esoteric areas of federal judicial power and its limitations is included. Other significantly lengthy areas discussed include the powers of governments to restructure courts and tribunals, the removal of jurisdiction, the role for judges sitting in extra judicial bodies and performing administrative functions, the rules and principles relating to disqualification for bias, and even more esoteric areas such as the principles of judicial immunity from suit or prosecution, and disputes about the validity of appointments.

Sometimes, unexpectedly detailed discussion arises almost as a sidewind from mainstream issues-the giving of reasons and the closure of courts as aspects of judicial accountability being but two examples. There is a lengthy discussion of the role of the media in relation to public confidence in the judiciary.

Since the book was published, the Council of Chief Justices has published, through the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration, its Guide to Judicial Conduct. This book is, of course, wider and, in some areas, more detailed and illustrative of some of the problem areas. There is also some relatively brief discussion of individual cases such as the proceedings involving Justices Murphy, Vasta and Bruce, and the issues concerning Justice Callinan and Judge Foord.

At the sociological level, there is some brief discussion of the gender balance issue. Here, as elsewhere, the focus is firmly on the superior courts. Issues such as the debate over judicial activism or reticence are not included at all. But every issue dealt with is discussed carefully and in terms of the intellectual issues involved, and each chapter is supported by numerous footnotes.

It is not a particularly light read but a valuable reference work on a wide range of important matters. It probably will not be read by many journalists, but some could benefit by doing so.


Justice Hal Jackson is a judge of the District Court of Western Australia.

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