1 Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Communications Between Bench & Bar: Perception Can Be Everything

LawCPD Author: Chris Shanahan SC
Christopher Shanahan SC
Barrister Murray Chambers
1 CPD Point


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It is an essential component of the rule of law for the judiciary to be demonstrably free of partisan interests, or the perception of such influence. Private communications between judges and lawyers is one area in which perception can be everything.

This course explores the ethical limits of private communications between judges and lawyers during the course of proceedings, as well as in other contexts. 

The course discusses a number of topics, including:

  • The traditional rules and conventions governing communications between judges and lawyers;
  • The gaps between these traditional rules and conventions and the rule against apprehended bias;
  • The case of Charisteas v Charisteas, which demonstrates how contact between a judge and lawyer may not breach the relevant rules but may still create perceptions of bias;
  • What steps could be taken to clarify and strengthen the effectiveness of the current rules and safeguards, including recommendations made by the ALRC.

Last Reviewed: December 2023

Meet the expert

LawCPD Author: Chris Shanahan SC
Christopher Shanahan SC
Barrister Murray Chambers

Christopher Shanahan SC was admitted to the WA bar in 1984, NSW in 1989 and the High Court of Australia in 1990. He practices as a barrister at Murray Chambers.

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  1. 5.0/5
    Really good
    Easy to follow and very stimulating
  2. 5.0/5
    Very comprehensive, and even as a Family Law practitioner with over 30 years' post admission experience and knowledge of the case in focus it is helpful and concise.
    As above. Broken down into appropriate "chunks" of information. Questions were straightforward, ensuring comprehension of the facts/reasoning adopted but not requiring lengthy typed answers. Good structure and ideal model for similar courses.
  3. 5.0/5
    Logically and clearly presented
    Well presented outline of the gap in the practice of judicial-practitioner communications, as highlighted in the High Court decision in Charisteas.
  4. 5.0/5
    This is a great course
    The course was easy to follow and the content was very instructive.
  5. 4.0/5
    A detailed exposition on a subject rarely discussed openly.
    Well presented facts around particular examples and considered analysis of applicable rules and judgements.

  6. 5.0/5
    Very informative on bias
    Easy to follow and detailed.
  7. 4.0/5
    Great course and good reminder of judicial process
    Easy to follow and informative.
  8. 5.0/5
    Informative and well written Thank you
    It was presented in blocks of easily understood concepts. It was very well designed and left a lasting impression. Thank you.

  9. 5.0/5
    Effective and informative
    A simple guide to informative and practical advice.
  10. 4.0/5
    Easy to digest and informative
    The ethics course was delivered in a simple format, making the content easy to digest and did not take too long to complete.

    This course reminds legal practitioners how and why they interact with the judiciary in an informative and simple manner. Justice Palmers salutation judgement speaks and expands on this too.

  11. 4.0/5
    Good course on etiquette
    Good course on apprehension of bias.