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Speech by Lord Dyson: Is Judicial Review a Threat to Democracy?


Speech by Rt Hon Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls at The Sultan Azlan Shah Lecture.

“Your Royal Highnesses, may I begin by thanking Sultan Nazrim Shah most sincerely for his extraordinary generosity in inviting me and my wife to Malaysia and for the warmth of his welcome. We are deeply grateful and honoured to be here. May I also thank Professor Tan Sri Visu Sinnadurai for his meticulous planning of our visit and the kindness he has shown to us throughout our stay.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is an enormous pleasure and privilege to deliver the 29th Sultan Azlan Shah Lecture and a great honour for me to be added to the roll call of distinguished jurists who have given this prestigious lecture since 1986. The prestige of this lecture owes everything to the brilliance of His Royal Highness, Sultan Azlan Shah, many of whose judicial and extra-judicial statements about the importance of judicial review resonate with the content of my lecture. For example, in his celebrated judgment in Pengarah Tanah dan Galian v Sri Lempah Enterprise [1979] IMLJ 135, he said: “Every legal power must have legal limits, otherwise there is dictatorship…..the Courts are the only defence of the liberty of the subject against departmental aggression”. The sentiment expressed in these words should be fixed securely in the minds of all judges who are called on to decide claims for judicial review…”

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Speeches published on this website are personal views and do not necessarily reflect those of the judiciary as a whole.