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Evidence, presumption that public officers have acted with honesty and discretion

Dovade Pty Ltd & v Westpac Banking Group & Anor [1999] NSWCA 113. Per Curiam, Mason P, Sheller & Stein JJA.

[In 93] There is a presumption that public officers have acted with honesty and discretion (Broom's Legal Maxims 10th ed p 642).

In the case of a judicial officer, this is no empty form. It is reinforced by the accountability necessarily inherent in the public processes of litigation and the disappointed litigant's right of appeal. Every judge swears to "do right to all manner of people according to law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will". This public oath is not a talisman against error, but it forms the constant back-drop to the way in which each judge functions on and off the bench. The history and reach of the oath were discussed by Sir Gerard Brennan on his swearing in as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia (see 183 CLR). The level of public confidence in the judiciary is based upon experience and a general perception of the rule of law.

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