Where Does Truth Lie? Challenges and Imperatives of Judicial Fact-Finding

Substantive Law

CPD Points 1


This course provides lawyers with insights from an insider into the process of judicial fact-finding and decision-making in the context of civil appeals, criminal appeals and international inquiries. 

Fact-finding in formal decision-making is always subject to human error and other difficulties. However, decision-makers are still obliged to discharge their responsibilities by explaining how they reached their conclusions.

This course examines three case studies to explore the difficulties and necessities of fact-finding in formal decision-making.

  • The first involves a civil appeal and the fact-finding responsibilities of an Appellate Court in scrutinising the proceedings.
  • The second concerns a criminal appeal involving a compelling matrix of circumstantial evidence and consideration of whether a retrial was required.
  • The third involves an international commission of inquiry on human rights where the state concerned would not cooperate but demonstrated flaws in witness testimony.

Through these three case studies, lawyers will explore how the decision-makers reached their ultimate conclusions, the differences that arose on the journey to these conclusions and the aftermath, with a critique of the outcomes.


Last Reviewed: February 2022

Author Profile

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG

Michael Kirby was, until 2 February 2009, one of the seven Justices of Australia's highest constitutional and appellate court, the High Court of Australia.

View More From This Author


Interactive Content
Self-Paced Completion
Access on Any Device
Receive Certificate of Completion

What Lawyers Say

  1. 5.0/5
    An exceptional CPD course.
    Interesting subject matter and very well written.
    - Fiona Lowe, Solicitor, Askew & Co Barristers