Lord Atkin’s Patronus to Decolonising the Judiciary’s psyche

The question of judicial independence is one that has been debated time and time again in African judicial circles. It has been said, that the judiciary can not be as independent as independence is. Justice could be said to be under siege best example being Kenya’s war with an Executive controlled Judiciary over a long period of time. Such control is the most efficient measure to curb democracy and curtail human rights in the wake of dictatorial governance.

Here though, I find a concise explanation on what Judicial independence is. An independent judiciary is a middle ground, an umpire, between a people and their civic rights and an executive, with it’s powers. It referees the ground in a manner that a people’s freedoms are not limited in a manner that violates their fundamental rights.

This particular reasoning breathes life into the concept that a people who give up their liberties for temporary securities, deserve neither liberty, nor temporary security… 🙂


I shall today be exploring the case of Liversidge v Anderson ([1942] AC 206). It isn’t a case I was immediately familiar with, but is significant nonetheless for its impact on constitutional law and theory, especially concerning the authority of the courts in challenging Parliament.

This case is particularly significant not because its outcome affected the nature of the courts’ relationship with Parliament, in fact it is a dissenting judgement with which we are concerned. Naturally, a dissenting judgement doesn’t have the persuasive calibre of a prevailing judgement, which would grant it the authority of law, but this case deftly illustrates the role taken on by judges as a social conscience, prepared to challenge statutes enacted by Parliament where they believe they infringe too far on our civil liberties or basic freedoms. Moreover, when discussing points of law and finding precedent to support a judgement, whether a judgement…

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