Howell v Lees-Millais


Reference:
[2007] EWCA Civ 720

Date:
4th July 2007

Court:
Court of Appeal

Comment:

This was an appeal against a judge’s refusal to recuse himself from hearing a Beddoe application, where one of the parties was a partner in a firm of solicitors with whom he had previously had relations ending in disappointment and animosity. It was submitted that there was a real danger of bias from the bench.

Held:

That where there has been personal friendship or animosity between a judge and one of the parties in a case he is hearing, the test of a real danger of bias can be satisfied. That was distinguished from a case in which a judge has made an adverse ruling against a party but has had no personal dealings with the party.

The court held that the judge should have recused himself, as the test for bias was clearly met. The test of a ‘real chance’ of bias established by personal friendship or animosity between a judge and firm of solicitors. The court also found that the judge's conduct during the case was "somewhat extraordinary", and that the judge was giving evidence of fact during the hearing.

The Court of Appeal also found that the judge’s conduct during the case was ‘somewhat extraordinary’, and that the judge was giving evidence of fact during the hearing.

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