Justice Heydon triples his dissent rate for 2011

Friday 12 August 2011 @ 6.23 p.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure | Legal Research

Last year, Justice Dyson Heydon had a leading 15% dissent rate. As of August 2011, he has dissented in 10 of the 21 cases he has presided over, more than tripling his dissent rate to 47.6%.

Most notably this year, he disagreed with the majority in Wainohu v New South Wales [2011] HCA 24, holding the NSW bikie laws as valid and recently, in Haskins v  The Commonwealth [2011] HCA 28, holding item 5 of Schedule 1 to the Military Justice (Interim Measures) Act (No 2) 2009 (Cth) as invalid.

The record for the highest dissent rate is held by none other than former Justice, Michael Kirby, whose highest dissent rate in one year was almost 50% and who often disagreed vehemently with Justice Heydon.

Appointed to the bench in December 2002 after a 2 year stint on the NSW Supreme Court, the conservative Canadian born Judge’s address to the Quadrant Dinner entitled “Judicial Activism and the Death of the Rule of Law” immediately prior to his appointment contained veiled criticisms of Michael Kirby.

Justice Heydon’s dissent rate has weakened the French Court’s image as a more united court than its predecessor under Murray Gleeson, which disagreed on final orders in approximately 50% of all cases.

Although it is unlikely that Justice Heydon will break Michael Kirby’s career dissent rate, he may very well beat the yearly record.

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