The High Court heard ten oral special leave hearings this month (with three grants, which I will summarise in my – now – quarterly grants post.) Of interest in the most recent batch is a phrase spoken at the end of eight of the ten hearings on Friday:
BELL J: Thank you, Mr Boyce, we do not need to hear from you.
BELL J: Mr Heaton, we do not need to hear from you.
BELL J: Thank you, Mr Boccabella. We do not need to hear from you, Mr McGlade.
BELL J: Yes, thank you, Ms Farnden. We do not need to hear from you.
GAGELER J: Thank you. We do not need to hear from you, Mr Crawshaw.
GAGELER J: Thank you, Mr Toomey. We do not need to hear from you, Mr Kirk.
GAGELER J: Thank you. Mr Lenehan, we do not need to call on you.
GAGELER J: Mr Walker, we do not need to hear from you, thank you.
This is the Court’s typical practice whenever it is minded to rule against one party after hearings its arguments, a practice it also follows in some full court hearings. It saves the other party the tedium preaching to the choir and permits the Court’s justices to get on with their busy special leave morning (or whatever they do in the afternoon.) As I noted in an earlier post, it is allied to a practice used in jury trials in England, Hong Kong and Australia that the Court declared contrary to law in this country last month, but it differs because judges hear arguments, not evidence, and do not require a direction on how to apply the law.
But it is surprising to see it featuring in contemporary special leave hearings, because the Court never has to hear special leave matters. Continue reading