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Towards the end of last year, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) published a series of articles dissecting the productivity of judges of the Federal Court of Australia based on published judgments, as measured by average words written per day, average paragraphs per day, and average days to deliver judgment. 

Individuals were ranked in a table and the suggestion was made that the speed of justice was unjustifiably slow. The blame was placed squarely on the judges on the basis that “the data suggests that [they] could finish their cases more quickly by better time management”.

In response to criticism of their methods from legal and judicial organisations, including the Court itself, the AFR hit back. They said, “Many professions and industries are assessed using quantitative measurements”, and that “bankers, stockbrokers, doctors, sportspeople, entertainers and business owners know this”. Even at the AFR, every reporter’s performance “measured by the popularity of their articles over any time frame, can be seen by any editorial employee”. It concluded that, as compared to Members of Parliament and Ministers, who are subject to “intense scrutiny of their performance, often on a daily basis”, the “judiciary is the least accountable” of the three arms of government.

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