Judicial Neutrality & Independence

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the book where I got info for some of these notes is the Andrew Heywood Government and Politics textbook

Judicial Neutrality

{the abscence of any form of partisan or commitment; a refusal to 'take sides'}

This implies that judges have no personal bias or prejudices and no favour of any particular political ideology.

Ways in which this is maintained:

  • Political restrictions - judges cannot take part in open party activity or express support or leanings towards pressure groups/protest movements.
  • Legal training - often between 20 and 30 years of training, of which to focus the judges' attention entirely on legal considerations, to act impartially and objectively.
  • Accountability - judges must justify their rulings and highlight the points of law that they have taken into account. Also, appeals exist as a higher court, which make judges all the more inclined to carry out cases fairly and correctly.
  • Not public figures - Judges discouraged to participate in public debate or speak out on political issues, which prevents them becoming emotionally or politically involved in public controversy.

Limits on judicial neutrality

  • Lack of social representation - tendency that senior judges are white, male, Oxbridge educated upper middle class, whilst there are few female or ethnic minority judges. Quite possible conservative bias.
  • More judges speaking out - Growing trend for judges to take a public stand on policy issues which brings

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