chapter
(a) Trial judge
Pages 2

Vinelott J:… The function of a judge of first instance is to find the relevant facts and, with the assistance of counsel, to ascertain the law as set out in any relevant statutory provisions and in principles to be derived from the decisions of the House of Lords and the Court of Appeal, and to draw the appropriate legal consequences. It is not open to the judge in performing this primary function to consider, far less express an opinion, as to the correctness of a decision of the Court of Appeal or the House of Lords except in those rare cases where he is faced with conflicting decisions of the Court of Appeal and must choose which to follow. That does not rest solely upon the feelings of deference and respect which a judge of first instance will naturally and properly approach a decision of the Court of Appeal or the House of Lords. An opinion which the judge may entertain as to the correctness or otherwise of, for instance, the interpretation of a decision of the House of Lords by the Court of Appeal, is simply irrelevant to his primary duty which is to ascertain the statutory provisions and the principles stated in decisions that are binding on him which govern the case before him…

Hickman v Peacey [1945] AC 304, HL

Viscount Simon LC:… [A] sharp distinction must be drawn between reaching a correct conclusion in a court of law, and establishing an absolute scientific truth. A court of law, whether it takes the form of a judge sitting alone, or sitting with the help of a jury, is not engaged in ascertaining ultimate verities: it is engaged in determining what is the proper result to be arrived at, having regard to the evidence before it. In most cases, there is a contest, and the court merely has to decide between the parties. And in reaching its conclusion, the court is greatly helped by considering upon which party rests the burden of establishing its contention. The conclusion, therefore, that the party upon which the burden rests has not proved an essential proposition, leads to the result that for the purposes of that litigation the proposition is to be rejecteda course of reasoning which could never establish a positive truth of science…