Concept of judicial independence

Attorney General Siromi Turaga (fourth from left) with Fiji Law Society members at their convention at Pacific Harbour's Pearl Resort. Picture: Fiji Govt

The perception of judges’ independence is essential for the judiciary to claim the legitimacy and command the respect it needs.

Australian senior counsel Arthur Moses said this in his virtual presentation on Judicial Independence and the Separation of Powers, at the Fiji Law Society Convention in Pacific Harbour last Friday.

Mr Moses said broadly, the concept of judicial independence required judges to decide a case free from any influence or interference that might seek to reduce his or her objectivity or impartiality and thus affect his or her capacity to decide a case strictly on the basis of its legal merits.

“Put another way, judges have a duty to administer justice according to law impartially, based on the merits of the case, regardless of their popularity or approval ratings, and without fear of punishment, favour or hope of reward,” he said.

Mr Moses said judicial independence also required that judges be perceived to be independent.

“Without that perception, the judiciary is unable to claim any legitimacy or command the respect and acceptance that are essential to it.”

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