Gillies v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: HL 26 Jan 2006

The claimant said that the medical member of the tribunal which had heard his disability claim was biased. The doctor was on a temporary contract and also worked for an agency which contracted directly the Benfits Agency. The court of session had considered tha a reasonable and well informed observer would not think there was a risk of bias.
Held: The facts did not support the basic argument that the member could be seen as the Agency’s doctor. She acted for them as an independent expert adviser: ‘the bringing of experience to bear when examining evidence and reaching a decision upon it has nothing whatever to do with bias. The purpose of disqualification on the ground of apparent bias is to preserve the administration of justice from anything that might detract from the basic rules of fairness. One guiding principle is to be found in the concept of independence. No one can be a judge in his own cause. That principle is, of course, applied much more widely today than a literal interpretation of these words might suggest. It is not confined to cases where the judge is a party to the proceedings. It applies also to cases where he has even the slightest personal or pecuniary interest in their outcome. There is no suggestion that that principle was breached in this case. ‘

Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond
[2006] ICR 267, 2006 SCLR 276, [2006] UKHL 2, Times 30-Jan-2006, [2006] 1 WLR 1781, 2006 SC (HL) 71, (2006) 9 CCL Rep 404, 2006 SLT 77, [2006] 1 All ER 731
Social Security Act 1998
CitedBradford v McLeod HCJ 1985
A sheriff passed a comment that he would not grant legal aid to a miner. He was overheard by a solicitor. The solicitor subsequently asked that sheriff to recuse himself on applications for legal aid by miners accused of breach of the peace while . .
CitedRegina v Gough (Robert) HL 1993
The defendant had been convicted of robbery. He appealed, saying that a member of the jury was a neighbour to his brother, and there was therefore a risk of bias. This was of particular significance as the defendant was charged with conspiracy with . .
CitedPorter and Weeks v Magill HL 13-Dec-2001
Councillors Liable for Unlawful Purposes Use
The defendant local councillors were accused of having sold rather than let council houses in order to encourage an electorate which would be more likely to be supportive of their political party. They had been advised that the policy would be . .
CitedLawal v Northern Spirit Limited HL 19-Jun-2003
Counsel appearing at the tribunal had previously sat as a judge with a tribunal member. The opposing party asserted bias in the tribunal.
Held: The test in Gough should be restated in part so that the court must first ascertain all the . .
CitedRegina on the Application of PD v West Midlands and North West Mental Health Review Tribunal CA 17-Mar-2004
The medical member of the review tribunal to which the appellant had applied for his discharge from detention under section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983 who was a consultant psychiatrist was not disqualified from considering the appellant’s case . .
CitedCooke v Secretary of State for Social Security CA 25-Apr-2001
Although production of a new medical report, or of a new medical opinion, could evidence a relevant change of circumstances, to support the claim that the threshold had been reached so as to allow a review of a decision to grant benefits, it did not . .
CitedJohnson v Johnson 7-Sep-2000
(High Court of Australia) When looking to test whether a member of the public would perceive bias in a court, it is unnecessary to delve into the characteristics to be attributed to the fair-minded and informed observer. One is entitled to conclude . .
CitedMeerabux v The Attorney General of Belize PC 23-Mar-2005
(Belize) The applicant complained at his removal as a justice of the Supreme Court, stating it was unconstitutional. The complaint had been decided by a member of the Bar Council which had also recommended his removal, and he said it had been . .
CitedHinchy v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions HL 3-Mar-2005
The applicant had been dependent upon income support, and had then come to receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA). She therefore received additional income support, but the office did not adjust that benefit down when her DLA stopped. The . .
CitedAl-Hasan, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 16-Feb-2005
Prisoners were disciplined after refusing to be squat searched, saying that the procedure was humiliating and that there were no reasonable grounds to suspect them of any offence against prison discipline. The officer who had been involved in . .
CitedIn Re Medicaments and Related Classes of Goods (No 2); Director General of Fair Trading v Proprietary Association of Great Britain and Proprietary Articles Trade Association CA 21-Dec-2000
The claimants alleged that a connection between a member of the Restrictive Practices Court, who was to hear a complaint and another company, disclosed bias against them. She had not recused herself.
Held: When asking whether material . .

Cited by:
CitedNational Assembly for Wales v Condron and Another CA 27-Nov-2006
The objector had successfully challenged a planning decision saying that a remark by the chairman of the planning committee demonstrated bias and an effective pre-determination of the decision. The committee supported by the developer appealed.
CitedHelow v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Another HL 22-Oct-2008
The appellant, a Palestinian, challenged the involvement of Lady Cosgrove as a judge in her case, saying that Lady Cosgrove’s involvement as a jew in pro-Jewish lobby organisations meant that there was an appearance of bias. The applicant had sought . .
CitedOsborn v The Parole Board SC 9-Oct-2013
Three prisoners raised questions as to the circumstances in which the Parole Board is required to hold an oral hearing before making an adverse decision. One of the appeals (Osborn) concerned a determinate sentence prisoner who was released on . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.238139