The High Court on Constitutional Law: The 2016 and French Court Statistics
(2017) 40(4) UNSW Law Journal Volume 1468
25 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2017
Date Written: January 1, 2017
This article reports the way in which the High Court as an institution and its individual judges decided the matters that came before them in 2016. It is part of an ongoing annual study of High Court decision-making which we began in 2003. In this series we examine both the totality of the Court’s decisions and the subset of constitutional matters in each calendar year. These statistical ‘snapshots’ are intended to complement more traditional analysis of the Court’s decision-making, ensuring that this is informed by data rather than mere impression as to how the Court functions as a decision-making institution comprised of seven individuals. Of particular interest over time are the formation and decline of coalitions between the Justices, as well as the frequency with which they join in stating reasons with each other or voice disagreement from the majority in the form of dissent.
The results presented in this article have been compiled using the methodology we have explained in earlier articles and applied consistently over the course of this study. As always, we acknowledge the limitations of an empirical study of the decisions of any final court over the space of a single calendar year – particularly so in respect of the constitutional cases which comprise a small portion of the High Court’s caseload. Nevertheless, there is a long tradition of annual studies of the decision-making in final courts, starting with the United States Supreme Court in the 1920s, because attention to developments in successive periods enables the identification of trends over the longer term. In some years, change may be quite dramatic; in others it is continuity that is most striking.
Keywords: High Court of Australia, HCA, French Court, statistics, constitutional law, decision-making
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