UK - Upper Tribunal, MK v The Secretary of State for the Home Department, 10 October 2013, UKUT 00641 (IAC)

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
10-10-2013
Citation:
MK (duty to give reasons) Pakistan [2013] UKUT 00641 (IAC)
Court Name:
Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (The President, The Hon Mr Justice McCloskey Upper Tribunal Judge Perkins)
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
UK - Immigration Rules
UK - Tribunals
Courts and Enforcement Act 2007
Section 12(3)(b)
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Headnote: 

A determination must disclose clearly the reasons for a tribunal's decision.  If a tribunal finds oral evidence to be implausible, incredible or unreliable or a document to be worth no weight whatsoever, it is necessary to say so in the determination and for such findings to be supported by reasons.  A bare statement that a witness was not believed or that a document was afforded no weight is unlikely to satisfy the requirement to give reasons.

Facts: 

The Secretary of State for the Home Department refused the Appellant's application for asylum.  The Appellant exercised his right to appeal which was dismissed by the first tier tribunal.  The appeal decided in this case was made on two grounds, firstly that the first-tier tribunal erred in law by failing to give reasons for determining that no weight should be attributed to a letter from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association which purported to demonstrate that the Applicant was a practising Ahmadi (AMA Letter), and secondly that the first tier tribunal failed to provide adequate reasons for its assessment that the Appellant was not a credible witness.  

Decision & Reasoning: 

The first tier tribunal determined to give no weight to the AMA Letter and provided no reason for this aspect of its decision. 

The decision in Tanveer Ahmed [2002] Imm AR 318 was considered, which set out the principles that in asylum and human rights cases it is for a claimant to show that a document on which he seeks to rely can be relied upon and that the decision maker should consider whether a document is one upon which reliance can be placed after looking at all the evidence in the round.  An allegation of forgery or evidence strong enough to support it will be rare. 

Evidence is relevant if it goes to proving or disproving a matter in issue.  There is a related duty to explain the tribunal's assessment of the more important pieces for evidence and to provide reasons for choosing to give no, little, moderate or substantial weight thereto.  Together these principles are aspects of two overarching duties: to afford the parties a fair hearing and to provide a reasoned decision.

Where a decision of a tribunal fails to set out the basis on which it has reached its determination on an issue, this is a matter which would in normal circumstances result in the decision of the tribunal being quashed.  However, the depth and extent of the duty to give reasons will vary from one case to another and is contextually sensitive. 

In the instant case, the AMA Letter was rejected by the first tier tribunal without explanation - it was incumbent on the first tier tribunal to explain why the document was afforded no weight at all.  Its decision lacked the necessary underpinning of duly articulated findings and associated explanation.  The failure to explain why it rejected the AMA Letter constituted a material error of law. 

The first tier tribunal made clear that it found the Appellant's case to be unworthy of belief – however, the requirement that it explain why is an indispensable one and its decision did not clearly state why the Appellant's honesty and credibility was doubted.  This amounted to an error of law.

Outcome: 

Appeal granted.

Observations/Comments: 

This summary was provided courtesy of DLA Piper.

Other sources cited: 

The Bailii Annual Lecture, 20 November 2012.

Case Law Cited: 

ECtHR - Van de Hurk v. the Netherlands, Application No 16034/90

ECtHR - Ruiz Torija v. Spain, Application No 18390/91

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