Ebner v Official Trustee in Bankruptcy [2000] HCA 63 | 7 December 2014

ON 7 DECEMBER 2000, the High Court of Australia delivered Ebner v Official Trustee in Bankruptcy [2000] HCA 63; 205 CLR 337; 176 ALR 644; 75 ALJR 277 (7 December 2000).

Per Gleeson CJ, McHugh, Gummow and Hayne JJ at [6]:

“Where, in the absence of any suggestion of actual bias, a question arises as to the independence or impartiality of a judge (or other judicial officer or juror), as here, the governing principle is that, subject to qualifications relating to waiver (which is not presently relevant) or necessity (which may be relevant to the second appeal), a judge is disqualified if a fair-minded lay observer might reasonably apprehend that the judge might not bring an impartial mind to the resolution of the question the judge is required to decide [13]. That principle gives effect to the requirement that justice should both be done and be seen to be done [14], a requirement which reflects the fundamental importance of the principle that the tribunal be independent and impartial. It is convenient to refer to it as the apprehension of bias principle.”

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