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Duty to give reasons

Duty to give reasons

MK (duty to give reasons) Pakistan [2013] UKUT 641 (IAC) is a corker of a decision from the incoming new President of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the Upper Tribunal, Mr Justice McCloskey. It is well worth a detailed read. Here, I just set out a few of the edited highlights.

 

Pinocchio by Michiel Jelijs
by Michiel Jelijs

The case was an asylum one and the First-tier judge had robustly rejected the Appellant’s account. Independent corroboration evidence was rejected because the Appellant was considered to be lying. The reasons expressed for the funding that the Appellant was lying included ‘prevarication’, ‘complete lack of credibility’, alleged vagueness and imprecision, his ‘conduct’ and his ‘manner’.

These are all findings rather than reasons. The failure to explain why these findings were being reached leads to a lovely judicial smack down:

As we have made clear in paragraph [12] hereof, vagueness, imprecision, hesitancy – or a host of other factors – might lead a judge to disbelieve a party or witness on one or more material issues. The requirement that the judge explain why is an indispensable one. In the passages set out above there are swingeing and repeated denunciations of the Appellant’s honesty and credibility. However their most striking feature is that they are unreasoned, unexplained and unillustrated. While the Tribunal dismissed the Appellant’s case out of hand, robustly and unambiguously, it did not explain why it did so. The necessary illumination, illustration and exposition are lacking. We accept that, in certain contexts, reasons for findings of this kind can properly be inferred. However, this is not possible in the present case. Appellate courts cannot have resort to conjecture.

The appeal is also allowed on the basis that the judge had failed to give reasons for rejecting the independent corroborating evidence, a letter from the Ahmadi Muslim Association of the United Kingdom:

It was rejected brusquely by the Tribunal, without explanation. We consider that it was incumbent on the Tribunal to explain why the document was afforded no weight at all. One does not know, for example, whether the First-tier Tribunal found that the document was a forgery or was in some way suspect or unreliable. The Tribunal’s stark statement that it was attributing no weight to this significant piece of evidence lacked the necessary underpinning of duly articulated findings and an associated explanation

As the President says, the final word on the subject of the duty to give reasons goes to Lord Neuberger (from the Bailii Annual Lecture, 20 November 2012)

“Decisions without reasons are certainly not justice: indeed they are scarcely decisions at all”

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

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