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General / Thematic: Business and Human Rights: The Limits of the Law

The Constitutional Duty to Give Reasons for Judicial Decisions


Luke Beck

The obligation of judicial officers to provide reasons for their decisions has been described by Sir Anthony Mason, a former Chief Justice of the High Court, as an element of the broader ‘culture of justification’ that exists in modern democracies.[1] While there is an increasing international scholarly literature examining the duty to give reasons for judicial decisions,[2] the Australian scholarly literature is far less developed.[3]

Please access a pdf of the full article using the link to the left.

(2017) 40(3) UNSWLJ 923:

  1. Sir Anthony Mason, ‘Reply to David Dyzenhaus’ in Cheryl Saunders and Katherine Le Roy (eds), The
    Rule of Law (Federation Press, 2003) 52, 54.
  2. See, eg, B V Harris, ‘The Continuing Struggle with the Nuanced Obligation on Judges to Provide
    Reasons for Their Decisions’ (2016) 132 Law Quarterly Review 216; Mathilde Cohen, ‘When Judges Have Reasons Not to Give Reasons: A Comparative Law Approach’ (2015) 72 Washington and Lee Law Review 483; Hamish Stewart, ‘The Trial Judge’s Duty to Give Reasons for Judgment in Criminal Cases’ (2009) 14 Canadian Criminal Law Review 19; Mary Liston, ‘”Alert, Alive and Sensitive”: Baker, the Duty to Give Reasons, and the Ethos of Justification in Canadian Public Law’ in David Dy]enhaus (ed), The Unity of Public Law (Hart Publishing, 2004) 113; David McGowan, ‘Judicial Writing and the Ethics of the Judicial Office’ (2000) 14 The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics 509; H L Ho, ‘The Judicial Duty to Give Reasons’ (2000) 20 Legal Studies 42; Frederick Schauer, ‘Giving Reasons’ (1995) 47 Stanford Law Review 633; Michael Taggart, ‘Should Canadian Judges Be Legally Required to Give Reasoned Decisions in Civil Cases?’ (1983) 33 University of Toronto Law Journal 1; Michael Akehurst, ‘Statements of Reasons for Judicial and Administrative Decisions’ (1970) 33 The Modern Law Review 154.
  3. A notable and important exception is Jason Bosland and Jonathan Gill, ‘The Principle of Open Justice
    and the Judicial Duty to Give Public Reasons’ (2014) 38 Melbourne University Law Review 482.