Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

The recent case of Singh v Glasgow University & Anor involved the issue of bias in the Employment Tribunal. Dr Singh is of English nationality and Sikh religion. He brought an Employment Tribunal case against his employers, Glasgow University, and colleagues in 2009. At the Employment Tribunal the Employment Judge gave permission to discharge Professor Gusterson, one of the Respondents. Dr Singh appealed against this decision, basing the reason for his appeal on the alleged bias of the Employment Tribunal against him. He was, he asserted, English and from an ethnic minority, and that there was anti-English sentiment in the Employment Tribunal. The Employment Appeal Tribunal emphatically rejected Dr Singh’s case, remarking that Dr Singh’s comments were “an unacceptable slur on the integrity of the Scottish judiciary”.

In this post we’ll take a look at bias in the Employment Tribunal and consider when such a ground of appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal may be appropriate. We’ll do so by looking at the following elements:

  1. What constitutes bias in the Employment Tribunal?
  2. When should you make a complaint of bias?
  3. Is it a good idea to base your appeal on the grounds of bias?
  4. How do you appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal?

If it’s helpful for you, we analysed the case of Singh v Glasgow University & anor in this post.

What constitutes bias in the Employment Tribunal?

There are three “types” of bias that can be pleaded:

  1. Actual bias
  2. Automatic disqualification
  3. Real possibility of bias

Actual bias

Actual bias is where the Judge allows their decision to be influenced by partiality or prejudice on their behalf. This would entail (as the name suggests) showing that the Judge is actually biased. This is, obviously, difficult to do. If there is a question as to the partiality of the Judge then the best ground to appeal on is the real possibility of bias as there is a lower burden of proof for the Claimant to achieve.

Automatic disqualification

Automatic disqualification is where the Judge (or a family member or partner) has an interest in the outcome of the case which could lead their partiality to be called into question. The first question to ask is: does the Judge have an interest (normally pecuniary or proprietary such as, for example, ownership of shares) that could realistically affect the Judge’s decision? If the Judge (or a family member of partner) does have such an interest then the next question to ask is is the potential effect of the interest so small as to be incapable of affecting the Judge’s decision? If there is a doubt relating to the second question then there should be a presumption that the Judge should be disqualified from presiding on the case. However, the question that should not be asked is “does the Judge have some link to a party involved in the case?”. The above test should be used instead.

Real possibility of bias

The test of whether a real possibility of bias exists is the normal ground on which a bias appeal is based. In order to prove that there is a real possibility of bias the party must show that:

  1. There were circumstances that exist(ed) which suggests that the Judge was biased
  2. Those circumstances would lead a fair-minded and informed observer to conclude that there was a real possibility that the tribunal was biased

The circumstances alluded to in the above test are, generally, five-fold:

  1. A personal friendship or animosity between the judge and any member of the public involved in the case;
  2. The judge is closely acquainted with any member of the public involved in the case, particularly if the credibility of that individual could be significant in the outcome of the case
  3. The judge has previously in a case rejected evidence of a person in such outspoken terms as to throw doubt on his ability to approach that person’s evidence with a fair mind
  4. The judge has expressed views, particularly in the course of a hearing, in such extreme and unbalanced terms as to throw doubt on their ability to try the issue with an objective judicial mind; and/or
  5. There are real grounds for doubting the ability of the Judge to ignore extraneous considerations, prejudice and predilections and bring an objective judgment to bear on the issues

Issues such as the judge’s nationality, ethnicity, social background, educational background, employment background and previous political associations (among others) will normally be insufficient grounds for proving a real possibility of bias.

When should you make a complaint of bias?

An application for appeal on the ground of bias can be made at any stage in the proceedings, including during hearings.

Is it a good idea to base your appeal on the grounds of bias?

You would need every convincing evidence of a real possibility of bias (or of a Judge’s interest in the outcome of a case) to justify submitting an appeal on the ground of bias. The judges in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, quite understandably, treat such allegations extremely seriously and making an unfounded allegation may seriously affect the potential of your case to be upheld on appeal. It’s generally better to appeal on grounds other than bias – for example perversity or a failure to adequately explain a decision.

How do you appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal?

You must submit a notice of appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal within 42 days of the date when the written reasons for the decision are sent to the parties. You should also send a skeleton argument of the Appeal at the same time as submitting the notice.

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

Tagged with →  

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

Share →

One Response to Bias in the Employment Tribunal – a quick guide

  1. […] dismissal Bias in the Employment Tribunal – a quick guide Singh v Glasgow University & Anor – Bias in the Employment Tribunal By admin On July 23, […]

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry


    4.80 Average

    346 Reviews


    I dealt with Chris Hadrill who was very knowledgeable and professional. To provide some context, I raised a grievance with my Employer and with the help of Redmans received a settlement offer. I have secured alternative employment and would recommend Redmans overall. I was very satisfied with the service I received and would rate it as 5 star.

    Posted 7 hours ago

    Danielle T

    I contacted Redmans in regards to a situation I needed dealing with with my employer. This was resolved within a week of initial contact and I couldn’t be happier. Both Chris and Sacha were brilliant and couldn’t have been more helpful! Thanks guys!

    Posted 1 day ago


    Quick proccessing of my Redundancy agreement.

    Posted 4 days ago


    Fantastic support during a difficult time! Chris was fantastic, from the first conversation all the way through a difficult process. Chris supported me with a settlement agreement and his counsel was invaluable. The company I worked for tried to suggest some solicitors that they knew would simply rush through an agreement. Thankfully I found Chris and the Redmans team, what a relief! They fought for me and allowed me to keep my focus on the next stage in my career journey. If I go through anything similar in the future Redmans will be my first point of call!

    Posted 5 days ago


    Quick responses to all inquiries. Supportive and provided top-notch service. Extremely pleased with the outcome and would recommend to anyone in need of legal advise.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Ben H

    Good, quick and informative service.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Edward W

    I liked Mel Chin's approach to my inctruction. She provided clear advice and explained things in a manner that I understand. I rated her service 5 out of 5.

    Posted 1 week ago

    James B

    Great and prompt service- would recommend and use again!

    Posted 1 week ago

    Emma L

    Excellent service. From start the team where efficient and helpful, the whole process was made easy on a very stressful and upsetting situation. They worked well to support my situation and negotiate. Would highly recommend. Thank you to Chris, Sacha and the team.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Brian H

    I must say, not seeing any of you and doing all on-line works very well. Very pleased with the service and would recommend you. Fantastic service. Many thanks Brian Haines

    Posted 1 week ago

    Sheenu A

    Professionals with excellent quality of work.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Maris T

    I recommend Redman's Solicitors. Chris was very helpful and informative. He provided a speedy and efficient service at a reasonable price.

    Posted 3 weeks ago


    quick response, friendly staff, my issue was smoothly done. superb

    Posted 4 weeks ago


    Overall I was very satisfied with the service I received. Right from making initial contact to being contacted by Chris Hadrill. He was easy to talk to, friendly and professional and gave sound advice. I would certainly use Redman's again. Thank you for all your help, Chris. I would rate my experience as 5 star.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Jane K

    4 stars for quality of advise. the team are good but it feels rushed sometimes and hard to contact.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Arabella B

    I am so grateful to Caroline Lewis at Redmans Solicitor’s for helping me with my Unfair Dismissal Case. I was seriously impressed how easy Redmans made the whole case, and am very happy with my Settlement. I have recommended your firm to at least 5 people in the last 3 months.. Thank you Caroline and everyone at Redmans. You are Brilliant .

    Posted 1 month ago


    Highly professional and efficient service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Tanya T

    I had the pleasure of Chris and Sacha’s experience with a work matter. They made me feel at ease with the process and explained everything thoroughly. Would happily recommend Redmans especially Chris and use them if needed I’m the future. Thank you!

    Posted 1 month ago


    I used the services of Redmans solicitors and was a quick outstanding service I engaged them in a settlement agreement after been made redundant extremely professional at all that was done and would definetly use them again

    Posted 1 month ago

    Adrian A

    Spot on support, enough to get the matter at hand sorted. No beating around the bush, no nonsense - got the job done and we all moved on.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark Q

    Five Stars I was most impressed by the attention, courtesy, speed and above all, professionalism in dealing with my Settlement Agreement. I would certainly have no problem in recommending this firm to anyone in need of their services.

    Posted 1 month ago