Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED June 4, 2003

The trial judge should recuse himself where his brother had considered, in a non-judicial capacity, a previous dispute involving the defendant.Application by the claimant during the hearing that the judge should disqualify himself from hearing the case on the basis that there was a reasonable apprehension that he would be biased. The defendant had had a separate dispute with Abbey National Plc ('Abbey'). Those complaints arose in 1999 and were made known to the board of Abbey. At the time of the dispute the judge's brother was the chairman of Abbey. It was not apparent that any decision the trial judge could make would effect or impact on Abbey or any dispute that the defendant might have with it.HELD: There was a reasonable basis for an apprehension of bias. The test to be applied to determine whether there was any perceptible bias was that contained in Magill v (1) Weeks (2) Porter (2001) UKHL 67. The circumstances of the present case were such that a reasonable and informed observer could entertain a reasonable suspicion or doubt as to the impartiality of the judge as a result of his family relationship and the fact that his brother had previously considered a dispute that involved the defendant.Application allowed. No order as to costs.