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Independence Under Threat?


“I am disappointed that Jeremy Bentham cannot be with us tonight. I should have liked to know how he would have received the 2012 President of the Society founded in his name. He was a supporter of women’s rights and therefore our relationship should have started well. However, I am proud to call myself a common lawyer and, of course, a judge and I fear, that once aware of that, our relationship would have deteriorated fast.

Jeremy Bentham was no fan of judges. For him judges and lawyers were conspirators in a criminal plot to secure fat fees with which to line their deep pockets. Over the centuries he has not been alone in his low opinion of lawyers and one might therefore forgive him for his lapse in judgment and over generalisation. However, I cannot forgive him for his failure to appreciate the importance of Judicial Independence (JI). For a man who believed in the rights of individuals, I would ask him, were he released from his cabinet, who better than judges, who have taken an oath to try cases without fear or favour, to maintain the Rule of Law and uphold the rights of the individual? If so, how can they perform that function unless free of inappropriate constraints?”

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