Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

The case of Singh v Glasgow University & Anor demonstrates that allegations of bias in the Employment Tribunal – especially when they relate to race discrimination on the part of the Tribunal – should be approached with extreme caution. Unfounded allegations will result in an extremely irritated Employment Appeal Tribunal and the probability of costs being awarded against the party making the allegation.

The facts in Singh v Glasgow University & Anor

Dr Singh (“the Claimant”) is of English nationality and Sikh religion. He submitted claims to the Employment Tribunal in 2009 against his employer, Glasgow University, and colleagues at Glasgow, including a Professor Gusterson. The Employment Tribunal discharged Professor Gusterson from the proceedings, something to which the Claimant objected. He submitted a notice of appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal alleging, among other things, that the Employment Tribunal was biased against English litigants.

The law relating to bias in the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal has a duty to act fairly to litigants. An allegation of bias on the Tribunal’s behalf is therefore extremely serious. There are three categories of bias that can be alleged in the Employment Tribunal:

  1. Actual bias
  2. Automatic disqualification
  3. A real possibility of bias

Actual bias is a claim that the litigant has proof that the judge in their case was actually biased against them for some reason. This allegation has an extremely high burden of proof and is almost impossible to demonstrate. If a litigant has doubts as to the partiality of a judge it is therefore better to attempt to demonstrate that there was a real possibility of bias on a judge’s behalf, a claim which has a lower burden of proof.

Automatic disqualification is when the judge is disqualified from adjudicating upon a case because of some general or pecuniary interest that they (or a spouse, partner or family member) possess. The litigant seeking to prove this must first show that the judge has an interest in the case (such as a shareholding in one of the parties). The party must then show that the potential effect of the interest is large enough to be capable of affecting the judge’s decision. If there is doubt as to this then there is a presumption that the judge should be disqualified from the case.

Demonstrating a real possibility of bias is the normal means by which parties seek to demonstrate bias. The party must show:

  1. That circumstances exist which suggest the judge is biased
  2. That those circumstances would lead a fair-minded and informed observe to conclude that there was a real possibility that the tribunal was biased?

The key factor in the above test is to show that there was a public perception of the possibility of unconscious bias. Factors which may demonstrate a perception of unconscious bias include personal friendship or animosity between the judge and any member of the public involved in the case or that the judge was closely acquainted with any member of the public involved in the case (among others).

The Employment Appeal Tribunal’s judgment in Singh v Glasgow University & Anor

The Employment Appeal Tribunal emphatically found against Dr Singh. It found that Dr Singh had not succeeded in showing that there was a real possibility of bias, let alone that there was actual bias displayed by the Tribunal. The EAT went on to state that Dr Singh’s suggestion of anti-English bias was “an unacceptable slur” to the integrity of the Scottish judiciary.

Our specialist employment lawyers’ thoughts on Singh v Glasgow University & Anor

This case shows that allegations of bias in the Employment Tribunal should be approached with caution by parties. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) takes such allegations extremely seriously and it is suggested that, if possible, an alternative ground of appeal should be utilised to avoid irritating the EAT.

About Chris Hadrill

Chris is a specialist employment lawyer at Redmans. He specialises in contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including breach of contract claims, compromise agreements and Employment Tribunal cases. He writes on employment law matters on a variety of websites, including Direct 2 Lawyers, Lawontheweb.co.uk, LegalVoice, the Justice Gap and his own blog. Contact Chris by emailing him at chadrill@redmans.co.uk

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.73 Average

93 Reviews

Mohamed F

Excellent and professional solicitors, highly recommended

Posted 18 hours ago

Anonymous

Redmans Solicitors provided a professional and prompt service in dealing with my settlement agreement. They used their experience to negotiate a better deal for which I am grateful for. I highly recommend their services.

Posted 3 days ago

Cheryl R

Very efficient and friendly lawyers. I have used Redmans twice now and Chris Hadrill has been amazing to work with. Would highly recommend Redmans.

Posted 3 days ago

Anonymous

I found Redmans Solicitors to be extremely professional, dealing with my questions and concerns quickly and in detail. I would have no hesitation in recommending Redmans Solicitors to anyone.

Posted 3 days ago

Anonymous

I requested Redmans services on a redundancy case. Both Chris and Rana were great, thoughtful, very professional and responded quickly. They were very clear throughout the entire process, regarding the process and my options and I couldn't feel I had better legal advice for my case. Overall excellent service and I would certainly recommend and use their services again.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Responsive, patient, thorough and personable - an excellent service.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

The team at Redmans, Chris Hadrill and Sacha Barrett were always very helpful and had expert knowledge to assist me during my employment law matter, I would not hesitate to recommend them to all!

Posted 1 week ago

Arun T

Chris was punctual, attentive and accurate. He answered my questions with clarity and avoided dubiosity. I would recommend him to anyone seeking legal advice within his remit.

Posted 1 week ago

Yulian Z

Great service

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Excellent, professional service and a speedy resolution. Many thanks

Posted 1 week ago

Taral P

Sacha and Chris were both very helpful in closing out my matter. Sacha was very clear in helping me understanding the documents I needed reviewing, providing a professional service throughout.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Really pleased with the swift and professional service from Redmans. They provided very clear advice and helped conclude my matter with the minimum of stress or delay.

Posted 1 week ago

Matthew L

Redmans were very quick to respond to my initial enquiry, and provided me with a very effective and efficient service, generating a most satisfactory outcome. I would definitely use them again if the need arose.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

First rate service. Warm and friendly whilst exceptionally efficient at the same time. I would highly recommend them.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Professional and helpful. Thorough and supportive.

Posted 1 week ago

Richard A

Excellent service, prompt replies, great advice

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Very professional services

Posted 1 week ago

Margaret

Redmans Solicitors took a lot of the worry away and were very thoughtful and meticulous in their dealings with my case , thank you very mush , great service and a great job

Posted 1 month ago

Mark B

Prompt efficient service. Hourly, and part thereof, billing got a bit stressful at times - as opposed to flat fee - made me think twice about sending an email or making a quick call when I had a query because it would have eaten up minutes from my budget. But happy with the legal service I received overall and would recommend.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Chris Hadrill has provided a truly wonderful service and was willing to lend his support and expertise at a time when other solicitors, only wanted to discuss their fees! A clear thinking and down to earth professional, Chris can be trusted to listen carefully to your matter, cut through the fog, and advise you on the best (and most realistic) way forward, saving you time, money and heartache. It will be helpful if you first get your ducks in a row in terms of documents / evidence etc. and then contact Chris, (that’s what we did) as this will help your matter to be dealt with faster. The more organised and together you are the more successful you will be. You'll be fine with Chris, I highly recommend him. Good luck!

Posted 1 month ago

Richard v

Excellent Service

Posted 2 months ago