I, the Hon Christian Porter MP, Attorney-General of Australia, having regard to:
- the importance of maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice for all Australians;
- the importance of ensuring that justice is both done and seen to be done in Commonwealth courts and tribunals; and
- the fundamental principles of procedural fairness, including that decision-makers must be independent and impartial
REFER to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) for inquiry and report, pursuant to subsection 20(1) of the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 (Cth), a consideration of whether, and if so what, reforms to the laws relating to impartiality and bias as they apply to the federal judiciary are necessary or desirable, in particular in relation to the following matters:
- whether the existing law about actual or apprehended bias relating to judicial decision-making remains appropriate and sufficient to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice;
- whether the existing law provides appropriate and sufficient clarity to decision-makers, the legal profession and the community about how to manage potential conflicts and perceptions of partiality;
- whether current mechanisms for raising allegations of actual or apprehended bias, and deciding those allegations, are sufficient and appropriate, including in the context of review and appeal mechanisms; and
- any other matters related to these Terms of Reference.
I further request that the ALRC consider what changes, if any, should be made to Commonwealth legislation to implement its recommendations.
Collaboration and consultation
In undertaking this reference, the ALRC should consult widely with the legal profession, courts, tribunals and the broader community. The ALRC should produce consultation documents to ensure experts, stakeholders and the community have the opportunity to contribute to the review.
Timeframe for reporting
The ALRC should provide its report to the Attorney-General by 30 September 2021.