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Immigration judge “wholly failing to meet standards”, Upper Tribunal finds

Immigration judge “wholly failing to meet standards”, Upper Tribunal finds

Three judges of the Upper Tribunal have examined 13 separate decisions of the same First-tier Tribunal judge and found them “wholly failing to meet the standards that are demanded by the office of a judge and expected by the parties”.

The unreported judgment in AA069062014 & Ors. [2017] UKAITUR AA069062014 (30 August 2017) makes for profoundly uncomfortable reading.

The panel, led by the Vice-President, said that “no more than the most basic principles of law are referred to in the decisions” of Judge Majid, “and even these seem to be quite often wrong”.

There are many specific examples given. Three suffice to give a flavour of the whole. Each contains a quote from the First-tier decision under appeal, followed by a pithy comment from the Upper Tribunal (in parentheses).

The Appellant should be aware that the current fiscal crisis cannot allow judges to permit people to remain in the UK when British citizens need jobs (not surprisingly, this sentiment is not found in any of the law the Judge was supposed to be applying).

The burden of proof is upon the Appellant and the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities (in an asylum appeal).

The best interests of the children are involved and that creates a knockout element (the opposite of what the authorities say).

The Upper Tribunal’s decision contains a number of stark findings and uncompromising turns of phrase. Again, without labouring the point, it is important to give some sense of their gravity:

To be frank, in none of the decisions under appeal does he give the least reason to suppose that he is aware what the relevant requirements of the Rules are. (paragraph 20)

In our judgment, these errors, and others to be found in Judge Majid’s decisions, are serious. They give the impression that the judge has very little idea of either his own (limited) powers or the content of the law that is in issue in the appeals before him. (paragraph 22)

Given that Judge Majid makes no detailed reference to facts or to law, it might be expected that his decisions are short, and indeed they are. Despite that, however, they are full of observations many of which are of dubious correctness, some of which are of dubious relevance, and a few of which are wholly inappropriate. (paragraph 37)

Judge Majid, the Upper Tribunal acknowledged, is blind, and works with the help of an assistant. But it pointed out that such a disability ought not impair a person’s ability to apply the law and express reasoned conclusions. Nor is it directly relevant to the personal conduct of the judge during proceedings.

A legal representative involved in one of the impugned decisions, despite winning his case, wrote a letter of complaint that concluded:

I would go so far as to suggest that the nature of the proceedings before IJ Majid were so shambolic as to bring the Tribunal into disrepute and undermine public confidence in an effective judicial system.

In a passage that appears in several of the decisions considered, Judge Majid writes that “judges in pursuing expedition and efficiency in disposal of cases should not sacrifice justice”. This is surely right. There is, perhaps, a distinction to be drawn between the making of good and wise decisions in individual cases, and failures to satisfactorily account for those decisions in writing.

No less an authority than Richard Posner, who this month retired from the US Seventh Circuit as the most-cited legal scholar of the last or any century, has written that his approach is “not to worry initially about doctrine, precedent and the other conventional materials of legal analysis”. Attractive as such a technique might seem, however, it is not on this evidence likely to find favour with the Upper Tribunal.

CJ McKinney

CJ is Free Movement's deputy editor. He's here to make sure that the website is on top of everything that happens in the world of immigration law, whether by writing articles, commissioning them out or considering submissions. When not writing about immigration law, CJ covers wider legal affairs at the website Legal Cheek and on Twitter: follow him @mckinneytweets.

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