Lawal 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 circumstances which have a bearing on the suggestion that the judge was biased. It must then ask whether those circumstances would lead a fair-minded and informed observer to conclude that there was a real possibility, or a real danger, the two being the same, that the tribunal was biased. The rules recognised the need to separate counsel’s practice from the area in which he sat. The threshold is only a real possibility of unconscious bias. One starts by identifying the circumstances which are said to give rise to bias. Would a fair minded and informed observer, having considered the given facts, conclude that there was a real possibility that the tribunal was biased. Mr Lawal has succeeded on the issue of principle raised by the Recorder objection.
Lord Steyn said: ‘Public perception of the possibility of unconscious bias is the key. It is unnecessary to delve into the characteristics to be attributed to the fair-minded and informed observer. What can confidently be said is that one is entitled to conclude that such an observer will adopt a balanced approach. This idea was succinctly expressed in Johnson v Johnson (2000) 201 CLR 488, 509, para 53, by Kirby J when he stated that ‘a reasonable member of the public is neither complacent nor unduly sensitive or suspicious.’
L Bingham of Cornhill, L. Millett, L. Nicholls of Birkenhead, L. Rodger of Earlsferry, L. Steyn
Gazette 17-Jul-2003, [2003] UKHL 35, [2003] ICR 856, [2004] 1 All ER 187
House of Lords, Bailii
England and Wales
Citing:
Appeal fromAA Lawal v Northern Spirit Limited CA 9-Aug-2002
The appellant had had his case considered by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. He complained that his opponent had been represented in court by an advocate who himself sat part time in the EAT, and that this would lead to undue weight and respect . .
ApprovedPorter 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 . .
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 . .
CitedBelilos v Switzerland ECHR 29-Apr-1988
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Preliminary objection rejected (validity of declaration); Violation of Art. 6-1; Costs and expenses award – domestic proceedings; Costs and expenses award – . .
CitedTaylor v Lawrence CA 4-Feb-2002
A party sought to re-open a judgment on the Court of Appeal after it had been perfected. A case had been tried before a judge. One party had asked for a different judge to be appointed, after the judge disclosed that he had been a client of the firm . .
CitedWettstein v Switzerland ECHR 21-Dec-2000
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Violation of Art. 6-1; Pecuniary damage – claim rejected; Costs and expenses partial award – Convention proceedings; Costs and expenses partial award – national . .
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 . .
See AlsoLawal v Northern Spirit Ltd CA 19-Feb-2004
. .
See AlsoLawal v Northern Spirit Ltd EAT 15-Feb-1999
The appellant wished to pursue an appeal against the striking out of his claim, and objected that contrary to the Rules, a member of the board who had heard the pre-hearing review had also sat on the full hearing.
Held: The appeal should be . .
See AlsoLawal v Northern Spirit Ltd EAT 6-Oct-1999
The applicant objected that one of the lay members of the Appeal Tribunal had, on other occasions, sat with a recorder who, as counsel, was appearing for a party in that appeal.
Held: There was no real possibility of bias from this scenario. . .
See AlsoLawal v Northern Spirit Ltd EAT 15-Jan-2001
. .
See AlsoLawal v Northern Spirit Ltd EAT 15-Jan-2002
EAT Procedural Issues – Employment Appeal Tribunal. . .
See AlsoLawal v Northern Spirit Ltd CA 15-Jan-2002
Application for leave to appeal . .
See AlsoLawal v Northern Spirit Ltd EAT 15-Jan-2002
. .
CitedLawal v Northern Spirit Ltd CA 30-Oct-2002
. .

Cited by:
Appealed toAA Lawal v Northern Spirit Limited CA 9-Aug-2002
The appellant had had his case considered by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. He complained that his opponent had been represented in court by an advocate who himself sat part time in the EAT, and that this would lead to undue weight and respect . .
CitedPD, Regina (on the Application of) v West Midlands and North West Mental Health Review Tribunal Admn 22-Oct-2003
The claimant was detained as a mental patient. He complained that a consultant employed by the NHS Trust which detained him, also sat on the panel of the tribunal which heard the review of his detention.
Held: Such proceedings did engage the . .
CitedRegina on the Application of Mahfouz v The Professional Conduct Committee of the General Medical Council CA 5-Mar-2004
The doctor requested members of the disciplinary tribunal to recuse themselves when, after the first day of the hearing they saw prejudicial material in newspapers which material was not in evidence. They had further declined to allow an adjournment . .
See AlsoLawal v Northern Spirit Ltd CA 19-Feb-2004
. .
CitedFeld, Lord Mayor and Citizens of the City of Westminster v London Borough of Barnet, Lord Mayor and Citizens of the City of Westminster CA 18-Oct-2004
The applicants sought housing as homeless people. After the refusal of their applications, they sought a review, and in due course a second review. That second review was conducted by the same officer who had conducted the first. The appellant . .
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 . .
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 . .
CitedScrivens v Ethical Standards Officer Admn 11-Apr-2005
The councillor appealed an adjudication that he had failed adequately to declare an interest at a meeting of the council. The officer thought the duty to withdraw was entirely objective, the applicant that it was a matter for his honest judgment. At . .
CitedGillies 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 . .
CitedMorrison and Another v AWG Group Ltd and Another CA 20-Jan-2006
The defendants requested the judge to recuse himself because one witness was well known to the judge. He declined, saying that arrangements had been made for him not to be called. The defendant appealed.
Held: There was no allegation of actual . .
CitedPort Regis School Ltd, Regina (on the Application of) v Gillingham and Shaftesbury Agricultural Society Admn 5-Apr-2006
Complaint was made that the decision of a planning committee had been biased because of the presence on the committee of two freemasons, and where the interests of another Lodge were affected.
Held: The freemasonry interests had been declared. . .
CitedRegina v Abdroikof, Regina v Green; Regina v Williamson HL 17-Oct-2007
The House was asked whether a jury in criminal trials containing variously a Crown Prosecution Service solicitor, or a police officer would have the appearance of bias. In Abdroikof, the presence of the police officer on the jury was discovered only . .
CitedA, Regina (on the Application of) v London Borough of Croydon SC 26-Nov-2009
The applicants sought asylum, and, saying that they were children under eighteen, sought also the assistance of the local authority. Social workers judged them to be over eighteen and assistance was declined.
Held: The claimants’ appeals . .
CitedMousa, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Defence and Another CA 22-Nov-2011
mousa_ssdCA2011
The claimant sought a public inquiry into allegations of systematic ill treatment by UK soldiers in Iraq. He now appealed against refusal of an inquiry, the court having found it permissible for the Secretary of Styate to await the outcome of . .
CitedJL, Regina (On the Application of) v Secretary Of State for Justice Admn 7-Oct-2009
. .
CitedO’Neill v Her Majesty’s Advocate No 2 SC 13-Jun-2013
The appellants had been convicted of murder, it being said that they had disposed of her body at sea. They now said that the delay between being first questioned and being charged infringed their rights to a trial within a reasonable time, and . .
CitedAmeyaw v McGoldrick and Others QBD 6-Jul-2020
Recusal Refused – former Pupil Master
Request for recusal – the judge was said to have been a member of the same chambers as counsel for the claimant and had been his mentor.
Held: Refused: ‘It was untenable to contend that there was an appearance of bias in circumstances where . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 04 June 2021; Ref: scu.183695