Policy Statement - The Process of Judicial Appointments

20 September 2008

From 1999 to 2002, Law Council of Australia policy processes resulted in a Judicial Appointments Policy, which was in effect from 2002 to 2008.

In November 2007, a new Federal Government was elected and subsequently announced changes to the previous government’s judicial appointments process. The Law Council has considered its position regarding these changes through a working group appointed in March 2008.

This policy results from consideration of the Working Group’s recommendations by Directors at their meeting in September 2008.

The policy affirms that judicial appointment should be a function of Executive Government. The policy also affirms that, in addition to any statutory criteria for eligibility for appointment, the expected attributes for judicial appointment are as set out in Attachment A. The policy then goes on to address the establishment of a formal Judicial Appointment Protocol (Attachment C), which outlines the judicial appointments process in the Federal Court, the Family Court, and the Federal Magistrates Court (hereafter referred to as the “Federal Courts”).

This policy applies to the Federal Courts and to all levels of judicial office in that jurisdiction except for judges of the High Court of Australia. The High Court is in a unique position as the ultimate appellate court for Australia, and judicial appointments to the High Court are already subject to a statutory requirement for consultation prior to appointment (section 6 of the High Court of Australia Act 1979). 


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