Court of Appeal case gives guidance as to how Tribunal judges should approach the assessment of credibility in asylum cases

Friday 22 February 2019

Patrick Lewis instructed by York Solicitors on behalf of the Applicant and Hafsah Masood instructed by GLD on behalf of the Respondent.

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SB (Sri Lanka) v SSHD [2019] EWCA 160 Civ 

In the case of SB(Sri Lanka) Green LJ gives important guidance as to how Tribunal judges should approach the assessment of credibility in asylum cases, the scope of judges’ duty to give reasons for their findings, and the circumstances in which an appellate court will interfere with a judge’s findings of primary fact.

As Green LJ states at [44], “an appellate court needs to be able to satisfy itself that the fact finder has at least identified the most relevant pieces of evidence and given sufficient reasons (which might be quite concise) for accepting or rejecting it.”

He goes on to emphasise at [46] that “[i]f a judge makes material errors in the evaluation of evidence, for instance because the inference drawn from a fact found is logically not one that properly can be drawn, then an appellate court will interfere. A material error in logic is an error of law.” 

He also endorses the important guidance given by the former President of the Upper Tribunal in MK (duty to give reasons) Pakistan [2013] UKUT 00641 (IAC). The serious errors made by the First-tier Tribunal judge in this case illustrate the pitfalls which can arise in the judicial assessment of credibility.

This case provides important guidance to judges of the First-tier Tribunal as to what is expected of them in assessing credibility, and to appellate judges as to what approach they should take in reviewing First-tier Tribunal judges’ findings of fact.

Patrick Lewis is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Immigration Team.

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