The law on judicial bias: A primer (JI1)

This background paper provides an introductory summary and overview of key aspects of the law on judicial bias as it relates to the Australian federal judiciary.

This is the first in a series of background papers to be released by the Australian Law Reform Commission as part of its Review of Judicial Impartiality. These background papers are intended to provide a high-level overview of key principles and research on topics of relevance to the Inquiry. While the law on actual and apprehended bias is central to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, the Inquiry will also necessarily consider broader notions of judicial impartiality. Further background papers will be released in early 2021 with more detail on some of the topics covered in this paper, and addressing other issues including theories of judicial impartiality, public confidence in the administration of justice, the science of judicial decision-making, and specific critiques of law and practice.

In April 2021 the background papers will be followed by the publication of a Consultation Paper containing questions and draft proposals for public comment. A formal call for submissions will be made on its release. Feedback on the background papers is, however, welcome at any point by email to