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Domestic violence case

Domestic violence case

I’ve been so busy I forgot to post a link to this recent piece on The Guardian’s Comment Is Free site.

I have an excuse to mention that now because the Court of Appeal has considered and rejected an appeal against findings by Immigration Judge Woodcraft in a domestic violence case, AN (Pakistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWCA Civ 757. This particular judge was the subject of damning criticism in the earlier case of Y and Another (Sri Lanka) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] EWCA Civ 362, which is one of those cases I wanted to report at the time but never quite managed. In the more recent case the Court rejected similar criticism but did state as follows:

It is true that some of the points relied on by the judge, in particular as regards discrepancies in the appellant’s account, are relatively weak and it is possible that a different judge might have been more favourable to her. But there is nothing in the judge’s analysis that could justify a finding that he was striving to reject the appellant’s evidence rather than to evaluate it or was approaching the matter otherwise than in a proper judicial manner.

Unfortunately, this is commonplace in domestic violence and asylum cases, where some determinations read similarly to Home Office reasons for refusal letters: as if the decision maker has rejected the account and is now scrabbling around looking for reasons to justify the outcome. The problem is that domestic violence and persecution are outside the experience of most asylum decision makers, and victims often act in ways that seem odd to others. For example, there is no rational reason why a woman would stay with an abusive partner. But many do, obviously, sometimes through many years of abuse. This could be rejected out of hand as ‘implausible’ behaviour, but an examination of other cases shows that it is commonplace and part of the nature of domestic violence.

I’m fed up of drafting grounds of appeal for cases where the judge has minutely deconstructed events, confused ‘not probable’ with ‘implausible’, paid only lip service to the standard of proof and thinks that he or she is a good judge of how an abusive man might act or how security services in a foreign country might behave!

Free Movement

The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.

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