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Hearing officers should not privately communicate with the parties on matters relating to the hearing outside the forum of the hearing.  See Re J.R.L.; Ex Parte C.J.L., 161 CLR 342, in which Mason J cited with approval the following statement by McInerney J in R v Magistrates’ Court at Lilydale; Ex parte Ciccone [1973] VR 122:

“The sound instinct of the legal profession - judges and practitioners alike - has always been that, save in the most exceptional cases, there should be no communication or association between the judge and one of the parties (or the legal advisers or witnesses of such a party), otherwise than in the presence of or with the previous knowledge and consent of the other party. Once the case is under way, or about to get under way, the judicial officer keeps aloof from the parties (and from their legal advisers and witnesses) and neither he nor they should so act as to expose the judicial officer to a suspicion of having had communications with one party behind the back of or without the previous knowledge and consent of the other party. For if something is done which affords a reasonable basis for such suspicion, confidence in the impartiality of the judicial officer is undermined.”

If either one of the parties attempts to initiate a private communication with the hearing officer, they should be referred to the Deputy Commissioner OEP. Where the Deputy Commissioner OEP is involved in the matter in question, a suitable alternative contact will be arranged.

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