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Only 15% of Tribunal reporting committee members are women

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 Out of those, 47 were reported, 4 were withdrawn and 5 were not reported.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.

Colin Yeo
Colin Yeo A barrister specialising in UK immigration law at Garden Court Chambers in London, I have been practising in immigration law for 15 years. I am passionate about immigration law and founded and edit the Free Movement immigration law blog.

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