UK - Immigration Appeal Tribunal, 16 December 2004, HE (DRC - credibility and psychiatric reports) DRC [2004] UKIAT 00321

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
[2004] UKIAT 00321
Additional Citation:
[2005] Imm AR 119
Court Name:
Immigration Appeal Tribunal
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The court identified the limitation of psychiatric evidence when adduced as corroboration of past facts. 
This case concerned an elderly Congolese woman who claimed to have had difficulties both in Kinshasa, where she had lived for many years, and in the east where she had moved.  At the first appeal the Adjudicator comprehensively disbelieved her account of events in the DRC and of her fortuitous arrival in the UK, where her daughter resided. Having rejected the entire account, the Adjudicator then turned to expert evidence from a psychiatrist who had diagnosed that the applicant was suffering from depression. This evidence was rejected because the diagnosis was based on the same account which the Adjudicator had found to be not credible. The applicant appealed on several grounds relating to the credibility findings, but in particular on the ground that the Adjudicator had not considered the psychiatric evidence before reaching a final conclusion on credibility and therefore risk.
Decision & Reasoning: 
On appeal the Tribunal upheld the original decision, rejecting all grounds of appeal. In relation to the complaint about the treatment of the medical evidence the Tribunal began by making adverse comments on the variability of medical – psychiatric reports received in the jurisdiction.  In words now frequently cited in UK courts the Tribunal held that ‘the part which a psychiatric report can play in assisting the assessment of credibility is usually very limited indeed. It will be even rare for the report to be or to contain a factor which is of real significance in the assessment. Where the report merely contains a history which the Adjudicator is minded to reject, and contains nothing which does not depend upon the truthfulness of the applicant, the part which it can play is negligible.’
The appeal was dismissed.
This has been a very influential decision in the lower courts, even though there was no reference to the higher authority of Virjon B Special Adjudicator [2002] EWHC (Admin), in which the Court of Appeal emphasised the necessity  of considering all evidence before reaching conclusions about credibility.
The decision is, on the facts limited, to the question of  the use of psychiatric evidence to corroborate past events and at least some of the court’s concerns could have been addressed if the guidance in Chapter VI of the Istanbul Protocol had been followed.
No consideration was given to the relevance of a diagnosis of psychological or psychiatric disorder to an applicant’s ability to recall past events and give a consistent account of past events.
Any suggestion that HE was authority for rejecting an expert diagnosis is misconceived. The point is first to ensure that the report is of the necessary quality and then to consider why it is relevant to the case.
Case Law Cited: 

UK - CI (DRC) CG [2004] UKIAT 00072

UK - Ibrahim v Secretary of State for the Home Department [1998] INLR 511