LAW4523 - The judiciary in comparative perspective - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Not offered in 2017


The contents of the unit will be varied depending on topical issues pertaining to the judiciary as they arise from time to time. But it would include many if not all of the following:

The Judiciary as a branch of government. This will entail an exploration of the concept of judicial independence and its interrelationship with the doctrine of separation of powers. It will focus on the standards for judicial independence as prescribed by international instruments. The relationship with other branches of government will be analysed.

Appointment of Judges and Conditions of Service This topic will examine on a comparative basis judicial appointment processes and the criteria for judicial appointment. The implications of appointing acting, reserve and part-time judges, the conditions of service, judicial education and disputes about entitlements to hold and exercise judicial office.

Removal, Suspension and Discipline of Judges What constitutes 'judicial misbehaviour'? A study of removal mechanisms from various jurisdictions and the grounds for removal from judicial office. The constitutional dimensions of suspension of judges. Mechanisms to deal with complaints against judges with particular attention to the Judicial Officers Act 1986 (NSW).

Judicial Officers and the Rule Against Bias Disqualification of judges and recusals. Public Interest and Private Interest and Codes of Ethics. The involvement of judges in extra-curial activities will be considered, especially conducting commissions and committees of inquiry.

Modes of Protecting the Judicial Institution A general consideration of contempt of court and attacks on the judiciary. Criticism of the judiciary and the proper limits. Offences relating to the administration of justice. The scope of judicial immunities. Parliamentary conventions relating to the judiciary.

Judicial Accountability The concept of accountability. Meaning of 'open' court. A duty to give reasons; appeals and reviews. The relationship between the courts and the media. Judicial involvement in public controversies.


At the successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

(1)comprehend and critically analyse the fundamental notions of judicial independence, judicial integrity, judicial impartiality and judicial accountability, with particular reference to international norms and comparative guidelines

(2)Demonstrate an ability to recognise and reflect upon ethical issues and contemporary challenges relating to the Australian judiciary from a comparative perspective

(3)Engage in critical analysis and make reasoned choices pertaining to dilemmas confronting judicial officers

(4)Identify, research, evaluate and synthesis contemporary constitutional, legal and policy issues concerning the Australian judiciary

(5)Communicate effectively, appropriately and persuasively on issues pertaining to the judiciary from a comparative perspective

(6)learn and work with autonomy, independence and professionalism.


Research assignment (max 2500 words): 50%

Examination (2 hours writing time plus 30 minutes reading and noting time): 50%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. The unit requires on average three/four hours per week over 12 weeks. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)


For students who commenced their LLB (Hons) course in 2015 or later:

LAW1111; LAW1114; LAW1112; LAW1113; LAW2101; LAW2102; LAW2112; LAW2111

For students who commenced their LLB course prior to 2015: LAW1100 OR LAW1101 and LAW1102 or LAW1104


For students who commenced their LLB (Hons) course in 2015 or later: LAW3111; LAW3112