The Tribunal Member who had initially heard the applicants’ cases had delayed making a decision for a considerable amount of time. The Chairman of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal sought to reassign the applicants’ cases to other Tribunal Members.
The High Court granted an order of Mandamus requiring that the original Tribunal Member determine the appeals, finding that in circumstances other than death or ceasing to be a member, the implicit power to reassign to a different Tribunal Member could apply only when a Tribunal Member was unable for a physical or mental reason to determine an appeal, or was unable as a matter of law to issue a valid decision. The respondent appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court held that the High Court had erred in concluding that the principles of Constitutional justice and fair procedures required her to restrict the scope of the power conferred on the Chairman of the Tribunal and held that where circumstances warrant the reassigning of an appeal, the Chairman may do so, so long as he acts fairly and respects the principles of natural and Constitutional justice. The Court held that the Chairman had made valid decisions in reassigning the applicants’ cases.