Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Time for judicial transparency

On Monday, an editorial in the New Zealand Herald called for a register of pecuniary interests for judges. The call was sparked by the case of Justice Bill Wilson, who saw fit to preside in a case despite being in business with a QC appearing before him, and owing that QC quarter of a million dollars. The apparent conflict of interest was such as to cause the Supreme Court to recall the case, and to spark a complaint to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner. And those facts alone should be sufficient to show why it is a good idea.

We force politicians to disclose their pecuniary interests to avoid just this sort of conflict of interest. We can demand no less from judges. Justice in our courts must not only be impartial - it must be seen to be impartial. A register will ensure that that is the case.