Seen to Be Done: The Principle of Open Justice
Australian Law Journal – Part 1, Vol. 74, p. 290, 2000
Australian Law Journal – Part 2, Vol. 74, p. 378, 2000
50 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2011
Date Written: October 9, 1999
The aphorism that "justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly seen to be done" is one of the most fundamental rules of common law legal system. It informs and energises the most fundamental aspects of procedure and is the origin, in whole or in part, of numerous substantive rules. This paper considers the origin and constitutional status of the principle of open justice, as well as the rules that this aphorism informs. It also considers the importance of the principle of open justice to judicial accountability, noting that open justice is fundamental to public confidence in the judiciary and the institutional legitimacy of the administration of justice. The paper warns of the pernicious effects of treating the courts as a publicly funded dispute resolution service, subject to performance indicators. In the legal system, the things that matter are incapable of measurement.
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