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Apparent Bias

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Did an Employment Judge’s interventions during a hearing result in apparent bias?

Yes, on these unusual and bizarre facts, held the EAT in Rolec Electrical Ltd v Georgiou.

The EAT rejected most criticisms of the Judge, but found that the test for apparent bias had been met on at least three points, including (1) an uncalled for and pejorative remark about the Respondent’s solicitor’s experience; (2) suggesting that a witness was in contempt of court when there was an issue over the disclosure of meeting notes; and (3) suggesting that the Respondent’s position on mitigation was hopeless before it had given evidence.

Noting that the well-founded objections to the Judge’s conduct were not limited to a particular aspect of the case, an observer would consider that the Judge had given the appearance of having taken a side. The case was remitted to a different tribunal for rehearing.

Thanks to Ed McFarlane for preparing this case summary.