The Office of Social Security and Child Support Commissioners
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION ACT 1992
APPEAL FROM THE DISABILITY APPEAL TRIBUNAL UPON A QUESTION OF LAW
COMMISSIONER: D J MAY QC
DECISION OF SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSIONER
"5. In R (S) 4/82 the Commissioner held (paragraph 26) that -
"Natural justice requires that the procedure before any tribunal which is acting judicially shall be fair in all the circumstances. It has described as "fair play in action" and its requirements depend on the circumstances of the case, the nature of the inquiry, the rules under which the tribunal is acting, the subject matter that is being dealt with and so on ..."
6. I respectfully submit a tribunal's jurisdiction is inquisitorial, not adversarial. And in that context the predominant concern is that justice is done, that it is manifestly seen to be done, and that no unfair or arguable unfair advantage is taken of the claimant.
"The general and salutary rule is that no man can be a judge in his own cause, and that rule with certain limits is rigorously applied. The reason of it is obvious, viz. to ensure not merely that the administration of justice shall be free of bias that it shall be beyond suspicion. It is subject, however, to qualifications and exceptions. The result of the authorities which were cited to us may be stated as follows:-
- As a general rule a pecuniary interest, if direct and individual, will disqualify, however small it may be.
- An interest although not pecuniary may also disqualify, but the interest in that case must be substantial.
- Where the interest which is said to disqualify is not pecuniary, and is neither substantial nor calculated to cause bias in the mind of the Judge, it will be disregarded, especially if to disqualify the judge would be productive of grave public inconvenience."
D J May QC
18 August 1998