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Insecure Industrial Court Appointments

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Following my column which was published last week, entitled “Independent office holders must avoid perception of bias,” I read a most interesting argument put forward by Mr Douglas Mendes SC, attorney for Watson Duke in the ongoing contempt proceedings before the Industrial Court.


He argued that the tribunal of judges hearing the proceedings was not independent, since it was the Executive which decided if the appointment of a judge is renewed. The “insecurity of tenure” could cause a “subconscious bias” among the judges which could possibly affect their independence in the contempt proceedings brought by the Government against Mr Duke.


I do not propose to continue this column on the topic of bias, but simply to point out that Mr Mendes’ perception gives weight to how careful we must be when treating with independent office holders. And more importantly, how careful these office holders must be in the exercise of their functions.