Monday smile – Humour in the courtroom

court benchToday’s post is a thoughtful Monday smile – I wanted to share with you a paper entitled “Banter from the Bench: The Use of Humour in the Exercise of Judicial Functions” by Jack Oakley from Clifford Chance, and Brian Opeskin from Macquarie Law School, Australia.


Australians are often said to have a sense of humour that is dry, irreverent and ironic. In such a culture, one might expect those who exercise judicial power to feel at liberty to unleash their wit. Yet most judicial officers in Australia today exercise caution and restraint in using humour in courtrooms and judgments. This stringent attitude is reflected in the paucity of Australian examples of judicial humour, especially in written decisions. However, this conventional view deserves to be challenged. This article assesses whether there is an appropriate role for humour in the exercise of judicial functions in hearing and determining cases.

The paper can be downloaded with free access from SSRN here.


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