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‘Unprecedented’: Tribunal slams celebrated blind judge over handling of 13 immigration cases in brutal judgment

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Lawyers have never seen anything like it

Upper Tribunal, Field House, London

The Upper Tribunal has directed a vatful of criticism at a blind immigration judge, in a ruling a leading barrister working in the field has described as “unprecedented”.

Feeling the tribunal’s wrath was Judge Majid, full name Dr Amir Ali Majid, who is a reader in law and immigration adjudicator.

Appointed as a part-time immigration adjudicator 20 years ago, Majid was then the second only blind person elevated to the judiciary, having lost his sight while he was studying in Pakistan. Before then, he was a senior lecturer at the London Guildhall (a forerunner to London Metropolitan), against whom he notably brought a successful claim of racial discrimination.

The Upper Tribunal, hearing an appeal against 13 of Majid’s judgments, did note Majid’s blindness, but said it was no excuse. The tribunal said:

[I]t is not, and indeed cannot reasonably be, suggested that blindness prevents a person learning or applying law, or performing the crucial judicial tasks of hearing both sides and reaching, and expressing, a properly reasoned conclusion. It is failure in these areas that form the grounds of appeal we have to consider.

This is just one of many brutal soundbites featured in the judgment, made by three judges in the tribunal’s Immigration and Asylum Chamber. To give you a rundown, one of the grounds for the joint appeal is that First Tier Tribunal judge Majid’s decisions “frequently include assertions that insufficient reasons are given for even a well-informed reader to work out the reasons for the decision”. On this, the upper tribunal trio concluded:

[W]hoever wins the case can have no confidence that ‘the “legal requirements” stipulated by immigration law’ have been followed at all. It is not surprising that in a number of the appeals before us, the grounds of appeal focus on the inadequacy of reasons given. Parties to an appeal are entitled to know why they have won or lost.

In addition to this lack of judicial reasoning, Mr Ockelton, Judge O’Connor and Judge Smith noted: “No more than the most basic principles of law are referred to in the decisions [subject to the appeal], and even these seem to be quite often wrong.”

It didn’t take long, therefore, for the judges to decide that the judgments in question “wholly fail” to meet the standard expected. “[E]very one of the decisions under appeal shows error of law,” they said, “in most cases serious error, in most cases multiple serious errors. Whether the decisions are looked at together or separately, they show that nobody should assume that Judge Majid has an adequate knowledge of the law or of his task as a judge.” 

The judgment may sound unusually brutal in its substance and tone — and that’s because it is. Garden Court barrister Colin Yeo, an immigration law expert, said he’d “never seen anything like it”. He added:

I have never seen [the tribunal] link up several unrelated appeals like that for this sort of purpose and never seen that level of criticism of a judge.

In the past 24 hours, it has come to light the judiciary has received a complaint about Majid following the judgment. Legal Cheek has contacted Majid and asked for his comment on the judgment.

Read the full judgment here:

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40 Comments

Anonymous

Quelle surprise.

(11)(4)

Trumpenkrieg

Smells like the Rotherham effect. Nobody wants to say anything in case they are accused of being “racist”.

(17)(11)

Anonymous

Errr no one apart from the Upper Tribunal Panel who took the unusual move of condemning his judgments wholesale. Conspiracy!

(12)(0)

Trumpenkrieg

Except the earliest case under appeal was reported in 2014 so he’s clearly been getting away with his nonsense for a while.

(11)(2)

Anonymous

‘…so he’s clearly been getting away with his nonsense for a while…’

One of your understudys, is he?

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Nope!! There have been others since but they’re just not ‘reported’ cases

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The reason the judgment is so unusually brutal is because the legal profession is crammed full of Social Darwinist Tories who pounce like bloodthirsty hounds the moment they are gifted an excuse to ‘have a go’ at a disabled person.

“Hi. I’m not disablist, he made mistakes, that’s why we were brutes. Did I mention we’re not disablist?”

“The Upper Tribunal, hearing an appeal against 13 of Majid’s judgments, did note Majid’s blindness, but said it was no excuse. The tribunal said…”

How the hell do they know? Is the Upper Tribunal made up of life-long blind lawyers who know the first thing about living with blindness?

It’s dead easy being disabled only from the comfort of your armchair.

(4)(88)

Anonymous

Tory voters are either idiots and don’t know what they are doing, or, they are protecting their own interests at the cost of the many.

(7)(38)

Anonymous

Very well said. I think those who have traditionally voted Tory for the wrong reasons (conned by the Tory press into thinking it is a good idea) are being worked on by Labour and they will see sense in time for the next election. Hopefully the dirty DUP deal doesn’t buy the Tories years in power so that they can do further damage to this country.

(6)(22)

Anonymous

lols at the angry Tory voters downvoting as they are worried that the Corbyn wave will topple their little towers of greed.

(4)(15)

Anonymous

WTF goes on in all your heads? This guy is a judge. His job is to ensure the rule of law. If his disability is preventing him from properly doing his job then he cannot remain in the job. Simple as. It’s not even clear that his disability is the reason for his ineptness.

(36)(3)

Anonymous

Exactly. Sounds like he is just a bit of a thicko.

(18)(2)

Anonymous

lols the corbyn voters who turn any story into an anti tory rant, corbyn love in

(11)(5)

Que?

So you would rather that someone be allowed to continue making fundamental mistakes just because they are disabled? Isn’t that discrimination of a quite different sort?

(35)(1)

Anonymous

Yeah, I clearly remember saying exactly that. Not.

Maybe his employer didn’t make the appropriate reasonable adjustments.

But no! Must have been his fault, eh?

(1)(33)

Anonymous

Ok, let’s accept the premise that his mistakes were caused by the fact he was denied reasonable adjustments. I don’t think that changes anything. At the end of the day he is a judge. If he was not provided with the reasonable adjustments he required to do the job properly, the proper thing to do would be to leave the role and bring an action against the courts system for discrimination. If he continued in his role despite knowing that he was unable to perform it properly (even for reasons beyond his control) he was failing in his duty. I realise this sounds harsh, but as a judge you have duties and accountabilities that are different to those falling on most ordinary people.

(26)(1)

Anonymous

Oh yeah, I forgot, disabled people are to blame when they are discriminated against too.

(0)(28)

Anonymous

Are you a troll? This is clearly not what I said.

(13)(2)

Anonymous

Maybe he’s at fault through his own fault.

But no! Must be his employer didn’t make the appropriate reasonable adjustments. eh?

(4)(1)

Anonymous

It has worked well for Diane Abbot so far but then she is just shadow Home Secretary..

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Judge Majis isn’t just blind, he’s wheelchair bound and I’m sure has other medical conditions due to his demeanour. I’m not impressed by this judgment. His superiors needed to intervene about 10 years ago!!! I criticise the tribunal as well for its handling of this….people should sue the tribunal…do they not montior the conduct of judges ?????

(7)(5)

Anon

Hi Judge Majid

Judge grade 3 (most advanced) LLB BA DCL

You can get Lord Harley to sue the FTT for you

(6)(0)

FC

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Cool story.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Then your client was misguided…..if we could pick our judges then there’d be a fair few who’d have no work!!

(0)(0)

Anon.

“Lawyers have never seen anything like it”. There really was no need for that.

(11)(2)

Anonymous

There are far more appropriate ways to deal with a judge when there is this level of concern about his judgments. What was the HR manager or JSB doing?

(3)(4)

Anonymous

I’m surprised you think that the HR manager might be not just *an* appropriate means of dealing with deficiencies in judicial competence of this magnitude, but a “far more appropriate” means. But in any case, I bet the appellate tribunal wouldn’t have gone in this hard without the judge having been given plenty of informal guidance and opportunities to sort it out, particularly in a case where the E&D characteristics are such as they are.

(6)(1)

Anon

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Evidence?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Clearly I have none. No more than the person who suggested this should have been dealt with by HR rather than the appellate tribunal has any evidence. Plainly neither of us have evidence.

I am basing my (informed) speculation on having worked in relevant environments for a long time and knowing what is likely to have happened. There would have been years of “quiet words” and “mentoring”; the last thing Judge Majid’s seniors would have wanted is to have all this aired in public, given the E&D characteristics.

Have you read the judgment? I recommend that you do. In one of the extracts from Judge Majid’s judgments, he refers (irrelevantly and inappropriately) to having had conversations with senior trainers at the Judicial Studies College, for example. So we know from the horse’s mouth that he was talking to people like that. Accordingly, there is no way that people in a mentor-type capacity would not have been aware of his difficulties and it is deeply improbable that they didn’t cascade it upwards to (say) a presiding judge, mentor or line manager. The reason it’s been going on so long is almost certainly because those in authority wanted to avoid having to deal with it in the way it has ultimately been dealt with precisely to avoid the reaction of people like you.

This is a tragic individual case of someone who is unable (either because he never was or because for reasons we don’t know about his ability has deteriorated) to deliver reasoned decisions applying the law. It is not because he is protected characteristics; if you doubt this, read the judgment. The greater tragedy is that people are trying to make this about E&D, which it really isn’t.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Typo: penultimate sentence: “It is not because he *has* protected characteristics…”

(1)(0)

massingbird

If you read the judgement you’ll see the guy has not even got a basic grasp of law, let alone immigration law.

He is entrusted with making decisions which are of huge significance to the lives of individuals, like whether they can live in the same country as their children or whether they are granted asylum. Often these individuals will have no representation. It is entirely fair to expect someone to adjudicate on on those cases in accordance with the law and not just make it up as he goes along.

That’s must be the case regardless of whether the person in question has a disability or not. Incidentally (again if you read the judgement) it seems HMCTS provide him with an assistant to help with papers etc.

There is nothing prejudicial about that.

(33)(1)

Anonymous

“Legal Cheek has contacted Majid and asked for his comment on the judgment.”

Because of course sitting judges are well known to comment to the media about the cases they have heard/in which their decisions have been appealed. Good luck with that.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t think there is much danger of his being a sitting judge for much longer (if indeed he hasn’t already been removed from his post).

(5)(0)

Everyone is thinking it

Diversity hire.

(13)(6)

Anonymous

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

A barrister

Wow, the judgment is breathtaking.

(3)(0)

Not the Droid you are looking for

He got appointed.
He’s still a Judge
Regulation is workign well, then….

(6)(1)

Anonymous

How did he come to be appointed in the first place? Surely he wouldn’t make through the current appointment process?

(3)(1)

Comments are closed.