Harb v HRH Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz: CA 16 Jun 2016

The appellant challenged an order made in favour of his wife in proceedings to enforce a contract between them. He alleged that there had been no contract, and bias in the judge. The appellant had not attended to allow cross examination because as a member of the Saudi Royal family he claimed to have been instructed not to attend.
Held: The judge’s approach was unsatisfactory in failing to identify the questions needing to be answered if he were to decide whether an agreement of the kind alleged by Mrs. Harb had been made. In addition, he failed to carry out a proper evaluation of all the evidence in order to test its strengths and weaknesses. Those failures were sufficient to allow the appeal.
Lord Dyson MR emphasised the fact specific nature of such questions, and identified two stages in the decision: ‘First, the opinion of the notional informed and fair-minded observer is not to be confused with the opinion of the litigant. The ‘real possibility’ test is an objective test. It ensures that there is a measure of detachment in the assessment of whether there is a real possibility of bias . . secondly, the informed and fair-minded observer is to be treated as knowing all the relevant circumstances and it is for the court to make an assessment of thes
Obiter, the court considered the allegations abut the judge. He had earlier recused himself after a public dispute about the conduct of proceedings before him. He had in turn been publicly criticised by senior members of the set of counsel who now represented the appellant. The judge had responded by email to the criticism, and had distanced himself from them. The terms of that email were now severely criticised, but as a ground of appeal it must fail, the essence of the decision under appeal having been formed before the critical article.

Dyson MR L, Moore-Bick, McFarlan LJJ
[2016] EWCA Civ 556
Judiciary, Bailii
England and Wales
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 . .

Cited by:
CitedLondon Borough of Southwark, Regina (on The Application of) v London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and Another Admn 15-Jul-2016
There had been a substantial and lethal fire. The Borough challenged a decision by the defedant to retain to itself the prosecution of possible offenders, saying that the defendant might possibly be itself subject to criticism.
Held: The . .

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Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.565676