Using a template for reasons for a decision does not constitute bias – Full Federal Court – SZQHI

Case: Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v SZQHI [2012] FCAFC 160

 

Court: Full Federal Court – Marshall, Nicholas and Yates JJ

 

Held: Using a template set of reasons in relation to a decision about claims for refugee status did not give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias.

 

Quote: “It is not necessary to show that the informed person would think that an administrative decision-maker would not bring a fair and impartial mind to the decision making process; it is enough in a case involving an allegation of apprehended bias that the informed person think that the decision-maker might not do so.  However, ‘a vague sense of unease or disquiet’ or a ‘mere lack of nicety’ is insufficient…The circumstances must raise in the mind of the informed person an apprehension that the decision-maker might not bring a fair and impartial mind to the decision making process.” (Nicholas J at [41])

 

Quote: “… the use of common wording in these parts… does not indicate that the second respondent had a predisposition to a particular outcome…” (Yates J at [62])

 

(Also see Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v SZQHH (2012) 200 FCR 223, on the same point, in relation to which the High Court refused special leave to appeal on 7 September 2012)