Several judicial officers were klapped by the Supreme Court of Appeal in decisions delivered late last term: over just five days, at least eight sharp criticisms were handed down to other judges, magistrates – and a retired judge.
Of course an appeal court considers whether the presiding officer in the previous court was right or wrong – that’s the point. But usually a higher court will say something bland, such as “We disagree”, or “This is not the only conclusion that can be reached”. But there are times – notable exceptions – when the court strongly criticises the original decision or the way in which it was reached. So what pushes appeal judges to klap the presiding officer in a lower court? Let’s start with something easy: how the accused person is addressed.