Whether deciding on fundamental principles of common law, interpreting the articles of constitutions, or making sense of the explosion of human rights, courts, especially the higher and supreme courts, are called on to decide issues of importance for the common good and for the rights and interests of individual persons.
In performing this role, courts operate under principles of independence, which means they are neither directly responsive nor directly accountable to the political process.
How then do judges decide cases, especially hard cases? What are the underlying principles, the informal guidelines, the constraints and limitations? The aim of this lecture - and workshop the day after - is to consider further the judicial process, the kinds of arguments and reasons that count, the constraints under which they must operate.
Justice Robert Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal opens the proceedings with this lecture, drawing on his experience as both judge and academic.