Bangladesh, EU Law, Guidance, UTIAC

Guidance on Allegations of Judicial Bias

In PA (protection claim: respondent’s enquiries; bias) Bangladesh [2018] UKUT 337 (IAC), a presidential tribunal has held that:

  1. Respondent’s inquiries in country of origin of applicant for international protection

(1) There is no general legal requirement on the Secretary of State to obtain the consent of an applicant for international protection before making an inquiry about the applicant in the applicant’s country of origin. The decision in VT (Article 22 Procedures Directive – confidentiality) Sri Lanka [2017] UKUT 368 (IAC) is not to be read as holding to the contrary.

(2) The United Kingdom’s actual legal obligations in this area are contained in Article 22 of the Procedures Directive (2005/85/EC), as given effect in paragraph 339IA of the Immigration Rules. So far as obtaining information is concerned, these provisions prohibit making such an inquiry in a manner that would result in alleged actors of persecution being directly informed of the fact that that an application for international protection has been made, which would jeopardise the applicant’s (or his family’s) physical integrity, liberty or security.

(3) If information is obtained in a way that has such an effect, the fact that the applicant may have given consent will not affect the fact that there is a breach of Article 22.

  1. Allegations of judicial bias

(1) An allegation of bias against a judge is a serious matter and the appellate court or tribunal will expect all proper steps to be taken by the person making it, in the light of a response from the judge.

(2) The views of an appellant who cannot speak English and who has had no prior experience of an appeal hearing are unlikely to be of assistance, insofar as they concern verbal exchanges between the judge and representatives at the hearing of the appeal. In particular, the fact that the judge had more questions for the appellant’s counsel than for the respondent’s presenting officer has no bearing on whether the judge was biased against the appellant.

(3) It is wholly inappropriate for an official interpreter to have his or her private conversations with an appellant put forward as evidence.

(4) As a general matter, if Counsel concludes during a hearing that a judge is behaving in an inappropriate manner, Counsel has a duty to raise this with the judge.

(5) Although each case will turn on its own facts, an appellate court or tribunal may have regard to the fact that a complaint of this kind was not made at the hearing or, at least, before receipt of the judge’s decision.

(6) Allegations relating to what occurred at a hearing would be resolved far more easily if hearings in the First-tier Tribunal were officially recorded.

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