27 Jul 2008

Boundary Riders

Martin Daly's column today in the Express is an exceptional read, and a persuasive argument for the independence of the Judiciary. If you have not read it, try to do so now.

Among the points he highlights (and which Pa-trick seems to have forgotten) are:

  • The Judiciary exists to protect citizens from the abuse of power at the hands of politicians who make up the executive of the State when we elect them. In the words of a recent judgment, "the Courts must patrol the boundary between the territory they safeguard and that for which the executive is responsible".
  • "Citizens are entitled to protection from the exercise of the power that others are able to exercise over their lives. Actual or threatened transgression of civil rights in society, notably but not limited to the exercise of the police function of government, are in large measure deterred by the very existence of an independent legal profession with access to courts consisting of independent judges. From time to time deterrence does not work and the judicial arm of government must be invoked, sometimes against other arms of government, both executive and parliamentary".
  • "The rule of law involves a principle of universality, that is to say every person however powerful or wealthy is governed by the ordinary law and is personally liable for anything done contrary to the law. All authority and power, including all aspects of governmental authority and power, must find an ultimate source in the law. It is this principle that ensures that the rule of law differs from the arbitrary exercise of power. All authority is subject to and constrained by the law."

Perhaps a bit idealist in thinking, especially where Pa-trick, Tattoo, Browne, Hart etc are concern, but a goal to be aspired to nevertheless.