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Interesting study on inconsistencies in asylum appeal adjudication


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Very interesting, worrying and yet somehow unsurprising study on inconsistencies in asylum appeal adjudication by Nick Gill, Rebecca Rotter, Andrew Burridge, Melanie Griffiths and Jennifer Allsopp in the September 2015 edition of the Forced Migration Review. For example:

Judges are advised to take an ‘enabling’ role with unrepresented appellants but in most of the cases we observed this did not achieve the aim of giving the appellant a fair chance. Although the judge often told the appellant that they would have the chance to give submissions, they did not explain what this meant, or suggest how submissions might be structured. As a result, appellants tended not to engage with the Home Office’s arguments against them but simply pleaded for the judge’s sympathy – a natural, but legally ineffective, tactic.

A final key difference between the hearing centres is the gender ratio of presiding judges. The percentage of hearings we observed headed by a female judge was 49% at Sheldon Court, 41% at Taylor House and 19% at Columbus House. This is particularly important in light of the correlation between the gender of the judge and the conduct of the hearing, as we show below…

… An even more worrying finding is that the likelihood of these key procedures being followed is correlated with extraneous factors, such as the gender of the judge and appellant. Female judges were more likely than male judges to explain the purpose of the hearing and how it will proceed, to introduce themselves, to check that names are correctly pronounced and to make the appellant aware that they should say if they do not understand anything. Judges also more often explained the purpose of the hearing, introduced parties, and thoroughly checked understanding between the interpreter and the appellant when the appellant was male rather than female.

Hat tip to EIN for spotting it.

Interested in refugee law? You might like Colin's book, imaginatively called "Refugee Law" and published by Bristol University Press.

Communicating important legal concepts in an approachable way, this is an essential guide for students, lawyers and non-specialists alike.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.