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What is the political role of the Judiciary, and is it able to remain neutral from political bias?

The judiciary is one of the three branches of Government, and therefore plays a pivotal role in the political system. Its wider definition comprises numerous different layers of the legal system, that all play their part in the judicial process, such as magistrates, judges, courts, etc. It has numerous political roles, and is relied upon to provide an un-biased assessment of Government affairs. Its responsibilities are as such:
1) Dispensing Justice
2) Interpretation
3) Creating a case law
4) Common law
5) Judicial review

The judiciary has a multitude of ways in which to protect its independence from outside influence, given neutrality in delivering a judgement is an underlying principle:
1) Security of Tenure
2) Contempt of Court
3) Appointments system (reformed in 2005)
4) Senior Judges
There are also checks in place to ensure the legitimacy and competency of the decisions made by the judiciary:
1) Political Sovereignity of Parliament
2) Rule of Law
3) Judicial Precedent
4) Primacy of EU law

Over the years there have been a number of high profile inquiries by the judiciary into the work of the Government, holding them to account for issues that have raised public concern. These have included:
> The Scott Inquiry, 1996 
> The Phillips Inquiry, 1998

> The Hutton Inquiry, 2003
> The Gibson Inquiry, 2010

Despite such precautions being in place, whether or not the judiciary can truly remain independent from outside influence is a contentious issue. One of the main threads of the argument is the narrow social and professional background of the people who make up the justice system. Professor John Griffith in 1977 made the claim that the background of judges would inevitably affect their judgement in cases that involved topics such as the rights of women and trade unions.There is also the belief that they are naturally inclined to favour whatever is in the interests of the state and public order. 
 Reforms have been undertaken within the judiciary to try to increase its legitimacy as an independent body. In 2003, Labour succeeded in having the postion of the Chancellor broken down to end its multi-faceted role, and as such it is no longer head of the court system. The position of Lord Chief Justice, a non-political role, was instead created to become the head of the judicial system. 

 

 

Rachael  B. GCSE English Literature tutor, GCSE History tutor, A Leve...

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