On 26 May 2010, a divided High Court set a high bar for those seeking to challenge refugee decisions on the basis that they are irrational or illogical. In ordering that a decision of the Refugee Review Tribunal denying an asylum seeker a visa should stand, a majority of the Court said there was “room for a logical or rational person to reach the same decision”. The decision was, according to the majority, not “unintelligible”.
The proceedings in the case – Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v SZMDS (SZMDS) – took a familiar path. A decision denying a visa was appealed up to the High Court at which point the asylum seeker lost.
In 2009, 11 per cent (6 of 53) of High Court decisions involved immigration and asylum decisions made by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship or his delegate. The Minister won all six. Fully 65 per cent – or 179 of 276 – of unsuccessful applications for leave to appeal to the High Court in 2009 involved the Government and an unsuccessful visa applicant. In other words, in 2009, out of 185 decisions involving the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, the Minister won all 185.
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