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Only 15% of Tribunal reporting committee members are women


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Some information about the shadowy Upper Tribunal Reporting Committee shared with me by the indefatigable Shoaib Khan, obtained through a Freedom of Information request:

The current members of the reporting committee are:

Mr Justice McCloskey (President), Mr C M G Ockelton (Vice President), Upper Tribunal Judge Peter Lane (Chair), Upper Tribunal Judge Jordan, Upper Tribunal Judge Latter, Upper Tribunal Judge Allen, Upper Tribunal Judge Southern, Upper Tribunal Judge Storey, Upper Tribunal Judge Kopieczek, Upper Tribunal Judge Coker, Upper Tribunal Judge Gill, Upper Tribunal Judge Grubb and Deputy Upper Tribunal Judge Phillips (observer).

Former members (since January 2006) are:

Mr Justice Blake, Upper Tribunal Judge Gleeson, Upper Tribunal Judge Warr, Deputy Upper Tribunal Judge McCarthy (observer) and Mr K Drabu.

The decision of who should be on the committee and who should be its Chair is that of the President of the Chamber.

Out of 13 current members of the committee only two are women, making up a mere 15%. The diversity data shows that the gender composition of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the Upper Tribunal is 35% (and 39% for the First-tier Tribunal IAC). There is quite a disparity there and the remarks of the outgoing Judge Catriona Jarvis spring to mind.


Returning to Shoaib’s request, we also get an idea of how many cases are reported and how many rejected:

I have below provided an example of how many decisions were reported in 2014 (prior to 30 September 2014):

– There were a total of 56 cases submitted to the Reporting Committee for consideration. Out of those, 47 were reported, 4 were withdrawn and 5 were not reported.

Lastly, we are reminded that it is up to the tribunal to decide what is reported and what is not:

On a discretionary basis outside of the FOIA, I can advise you that paragraph 7 of the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber Guidance Note 2011 No.2 outlines the process of nominating a decision for consideration as follows:

“Promulgated determinations that a permanent judge of the Chamber considers meets the criteria for reporting may be nominated for consideration by the Reporting Committee. When such nomination is made the Committee reviews the determination for compliance with the criteria …”

The Freedom of Information request declines to provide any of these “criteria” so we do not know what, if any, criteria are applied. Maybe “manliness” is one such. From an external perspective, it would certainly be reassuring to know that there are some principled criteria that allow for healthy legal dissent and discussion within the tribunal. Previous ‘incidents’ such as the replacement of Catriona Jarvis’s BK and Others (Spouses: Marriage – meaning of “subsisting”) Turkey [2005] UKAIT 00174 with Mark Ockelton’s starred decision in GA (“Subsisting” marriage) Ghana [2006] UKAIT 00046, itself eventually superseded by Goudey (subsisting marriage – evidence) Sudan [2012] UKUT 00041 (IAC), and the decision to report NA & Others (Tier 1 Post-Study Work-funds) [2009] UKAIT 00025 (reported on FM here) but not the ultimately correct allowed tribunal level Pankina case (Pankina in the Court of Appeal was an appeal by the Secretary of State) leave one wondering whether control and false certainty is more important than the common law tradition of evolutionary improvement through debate.

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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.


6 Responses

    1. Quite. I’ve been struggling a bit to see how to write that one up. Dr Storey does so like to classify things. It seems somehow to validate them for him or cause them properly to exist.

  1. It is funny how people go on about women being unrepresented in higher positions – but no one pays any attention to ethnic minority.

    Here, we only have one black Upper Tribunal Judge Eshun. She is not only a Judge from an ethnic minority, she is also a black female Judge and has been an UTJ for a very long time.

    No one is certain how members of this committee are selected, but I would advocate for more BME representation as well as women. Lets face it, this committee is reporting cases from countries where the majority are not even white …so why not have BME members adequately represented on this committee?

    I am also concerned why long established UTJs like Moulden, Goldstein and Kebede are not on the list. UTJ Coker looks to me to be a recent promotion as an UTJ.

    It would be helpful for people not to simply talk about representation of women…but also to bear in mind the all important BME representation. After all, this is meant to be a representative committee!

    Views are my own.

    1. Thank you. It appears that the Equality Bill/Act, or whatever status it currently is – doesn’t really make much difference, has been designed to assist every other minority group with the exception of BME group. The programme aired last week, “Deficit Britain”, demonstrated that when it came to discussing the old chestnut of racial equality the subject was still nothing more than the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’. The UK is not even ready to have a sensible debate on this subject, for the simple reason that they are not prepared to do anything about it.
      Every organisation, institution and company in the UK seems to be struggling with this one.
      The best part of it is that, even though there are a few BME Members of Parliament, they are so outnumbered that they voice is nothing more than a ‘lone wolf crying I the wilderness’.

  2. What percentage of immigration judges have first hand experience of immigration law (as participants, not representatives)?

    1. Likely will have been applicants exposed to foreign immigration rules if they went to study or work abroad (hopefully some did). Hopefully a few are married to foreigners as well so will have been impacted by UK immigration albeit as sponsors. Suspect not too many will have a migrant parent, at least not when they will have been old enough to be aware of the difficulties around it. I’d be amazed if any of the current judges obtained naturalisation as adults.

      I hope all their kids/grandkids marry foreigners and are impacted by Appendix FM though. Maybe THEN we will see reason.