some default text...
Judgment - In Re Pinochet  continued

(back to preceding text)
 

LORD GOFF OF CHIEVELEY

My Lords,

I have had the opportunity of reading in draft the opinion prepared by my noble and learned friend, Lord Browne-Wilkinson. It was for the like reasons to those given by him that I agreed that the order of your Lordships' House in this matter dated 25 November 1998 should be set aside and that a rehearing of the appeal should take place before a differently constituted Committee. Even so, having regard to the unusual nature of this case, I propose to set out briefly in my own words the reasons why I reached that conclusion.

Like my noble and learned friend, I am of the opinion that the principle which governs this matter is that a man shall not be a judge in his own cause--nemo judex in sua causa: see Dimes v. Grand Junction Canal (1852) 3 H.L.C. 759, 793, per Lord Campbell. As stated by Lord Campbell in that case at p. 793, the principle is not confined to a cause to which the judge is a party, but applies also to a cause in which he has an interest. Thus, for example, a judge who holds shares in a company which is a party to the litigation is caught by the principle, not because he himself is a party to the litigation (which he is not), but because he has by virtue of his shareholding an interest in the cause. That was indeed the ratio decidendi of the famous case of Dimes itself. In that case the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Cottenham, affirmed an order granted by the Vice-Chancellor granting relief to a company in which, unknown to the defendant and forgotten by himself, he held a substantial shareholding. It was decided, following the opinion of the judges, that Lord Cottenham was disqualified, by reason of his interest in the cause, from adjudicating in the matter, and that his order was for that reason voidable and must be set aside. Such a conclusion must follow, subject only to waiver by the party or parties to the proceedings thereby affected.

In the present case your Lordships are not concerned with a judge who is a party to the cause, nor with one who has a financial interest in a party to the cause or in the outcome of the cause. Your Lordships are concerned with a case in which a judge is closely connected with a party to the proceedings. This situation has arisen because, as my noble and learned friend has described, Amnesty International ("AI") was given leave to intervene in the proceedings; and, whether or not AI thereby became technically a party to the proceedings, it so participated in the proceedings, actively supporting the cause of one party (the Government of Spain, represented by the Crown Prosecution Service) against another (Senator Pinochet), that it must be treated as a party. Furthermore, Lord Hoffmann is a Director and Chairperson of Amnesty International Charity Limited ("AICL"). AICL and Amnesty International Limited ("AIL") are United Kingdom companies through which the work of the International Headquarters of AI in London is undertaken, AICL having been incorporated to carry out those purposes of AI which are charitable under UK law. Neither Senator Pinochet nor the lawyers acting for him were aware of the connection between Lord Hoffmann and AI until after judgment was given on 25 November 1998.

My noble and learned friend has described in lucid detail the working relationship between AICL, AIL and AI, both generally and in relation to Chile. It is unnecessary for me to do more than state that not only was AICL deeply involved in the work of AI, commissioning activities falling within the objects of AI which were charitable, but that it did so specifically in relation to research publications including one relating to Chile reporting on breaches of human rights (by torture and otherwise) in Chile and calling for those responsible to be brought to justice. It is in these circumstances that we have to consider the position of Lord Hoffmann, not as a person who is himself a party to the proceedings or who has a financial interest in such a party or in the outcome of the proceedings, but as a person who is, as a director and chairperson of AICL, closely connected with AI which is, or must be treated as, a party to the proceedings. The question which arises is whether his connection with that party will (subject to waiver) itself disqualify him from sitting as a judge in the proceedings, in the same way as a significant shareholding in a party will do, and so require that the order made upon the outcome of the proceedings must be set aside.

Such a question could in theory arise, for example, in relation to a senior executive of a body which is a party to the proceedings, who holds no shares in that body; but it is, I believe, only conceivable that it will do so where the body in question is a charitable organisation. He will by reason of his position be committed to the well-being of the charity, and to the fulfilment by the charity of its charitable objects. He may for that reason properly be said to have an interest in the outcome of the litigation, though he has no financial interest, and so to be disqualified from sitting as a judge in the proceedings. The cause is "a cause in which he has an interest", in the words of Lord Campbell in Dimes at p. 793. It follows that in this context the relevant interest need not be a financial interest. This is the view expressed by Professor Shetreet in his book Judges on Trial at p. 310, where he states that "A judge may have to disqualify himself by reason of his association with a body that institutes or defends the suit", giving as an example the chairman or member of the board of a charitable organisation.

Let me next take the position of Lord Hoffmann in the present case. He was not a member of the governing body of AI, which is or is to be treated as a party to the present proceedings: he was chairperson of an associated body, AICL, which is not a party. However, on the evidence, it is plain that there is a close relationship between AI, AIL and AICL. AICL was formed following the decision in McGovern v. Attorney-General [1982] Ch. 321, to carry out the purposes of AI which were charitable, no doubt with the sensible object of achieving a tax saving. So the division of function between AIL and AICL was that the latter was to carry out those aspects of the work of the International Headquarters of AI which were charitable, leaving it to AIL to carry out the remainder, that division being made for fiscal reasons. It follows that AI, AIL and AICL can together be described as being, in practical terms, one organisation, of which AICL forms part. The effect for present purposes is that Lord Hoffmann, as chairperson of one member of that organisation, AICL, is so closely associated with another member of that organisation, AI, that he can properly be said to have an interest in the outcome of proceedings to which AI has become party. This conclusion is reinforced, so far as the present case is concerned, by the evidence of AICL commissioning a report by AI relating to breaches of human rights in Chile, and calling for those responsible to be brought to justice. It follows that Lord Hoffmann had an interest in the outcome of the present proceedings and so was disqualified from sitting as a judge in those proceedings.

It is important to observe that this conclusion is, in my opinion, in no way dependent on Lord Hoffmann personally holding any view, or having any objective, regarding the question whether Senator Pinochet should be extradited, nor is it dependent on any bias or apparent bias on his part. Any suggestion of bias on his part was, of course, disclaimed by those representing Senator Pinochet. It arises simply from Lord Hoffmann's involvement in AICL; the close relationship between AI, AIL and AICL, which here means that for present purposes they can be regarded as being, in practical terms, one organisation; and the participation of AI in the present proceedings in which as a result it either is, or must be treated as, a party.

LORD NOLAN

My Lords,

I agree with the views expressed by noble and learned friends Lord Browne-Wilkinson and Lord Goff of Chieveley. In my judgment the decision of 25 November had to be set aside for the reasons which they give.

I would only add that in any case where the impartiality of a judge is in question the appearance of the matter is just as important as the reality.

LORD HOPE OF CRAIGHEAD

My Lords,

I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speeches which have been prepared by my noble and learned friends, Lord Browne-Wilkinson and Lord Goff of Chieveley. For the reasons which they have given I also was satisfied that the earlier decision of this House cannot stand and must be set aside. But in view of the importance of the case and its wider implications, I should like to add these observations.

One of the cornerstones of our legal system is the impartiality of the tribunals by which justice is administered. In civil litigation the guiding principle is that no one may be a judge in his own cause: nemo debet esse judex in propria causa. It is a principle which is applied much more widely than a literal interpretation of the words might suggest. It is not confined to cases where the judge is a party to the proceedings. It is applied also to cases where he has a personal or pecuniary interest in the outcome, however small. In London and North-Western Railway Co. v. Lindsay (1858) 3 Macq. 99 the same question as that which arose in Dimes v. Proprietors of Grand Junction Canal (1852) 3 H.L.Cas. 759 was considered in an appeal from the Court of Session to this House. Lord Wensleydale stated that, as he was a shareholder in the appellant company, he proposed to retire and take no part in the judgment. The Lord Chancellor said that he regretted that this step seemed to be necessary. Although counsel stated that he had no objection, it was thought better that any difficulty that might arise should be avoided and Lord Wensleydale retired.

In Sellar v. Highland Railway Co. 1919 S.C. (H.L.) 19, the same rule was applied where a person who had been appointed to act as one of the arbiters in a dispute between the proprietors of certain fishings and the railway company was the holder of a small number of ordinary shares in the railway company. Lord Buckmaster, after referring to Dimes and Lindsay, gave this explanation of the rule at pp. 20-21:

     "The law remains unaltered and unvarying today, and, although it is obvious that the extended growth of personal property and the wide distribution of interests in vast commercial concerns may render the application of the rule increasingly irksome, it is none the less a rule which I for my part should greatly regret to see even in the slightest degree relaxed. The importance of preserving the administration of justice from anything which can even by remote imagination infer a bias or interest in the Judge upon whom falls the solemn duty of interpreting the law is so grave that any small inconvenience experienced in its preservation may be cheerfully endured. In practice also the difficulty is one easily overcome, because, directly the fact is stated, it is common practice that counsel on each side agree that the existence of the disqualification shall afford no objection to the prosecution of the suit, and the matter proceeds in the ordinary way, but, if the disclosure is not made, either through neglect or inadvertence, the judgment becomes voidable and may be set aside."

As my noble and learned friend Lord Goff of Chieveley said in Reg. v. Gough [1993] A.C. 646, 661, the nature of the interest is such that public confidence in the administration of justice requires that the judge must withdraw from the case or, if he fails to disclose his interest and sits in judgment upon it, the decision cannot stand. It is no answer for the judge to say that he is in fact impartial and that he will abide by his judicial oath. The purpose of the disqualification is to preserve the administration of justice from any suspicion of impartiality. The disqualification does not follow automatically in the strict sense of that word, because the parties to the suit may waive the objection. But no further investigation is necessary and, if the interest is not disclosed, the consequence is inevitable. In practice the application of this rule is so well understood and so consistently observed that no case has arisen in the course of this century where a decision of any of the courts exercising a civil jurisdiction in any part of the United Kingdom has had to be set aside on the ground that there was a breach of it.

In the present case we are concerned not with civil litigation but with a decision taken in proceedings for extradition on criminal charges. It is only in the most unusual circumstances that a judge who was sitting in criminal proceedings would find himself open to the objection that he was acting as a judge in his own cause. In principle, if it could be shown that he had a personal or pecuniary interest in the outcome, the maxim would apply. But no case was cited to us, and I am not aware of any, in which it has been applied hitherto in a criminal case. In practice judges are well aware that they should not sit in a case where they have even the slightest personal interest in it either as defendant or as prosecutor.

The ground of objection which has invariably been taken until now in criminal cases is based on that other principle which has its origin in the requirement of impartiality. This is that justice must not only be done; it must also be seen to be done. It covers a wider range of situations than that which is covered by the maxim that no-one may be a judge in his own cause. But it would be surprising if the application of that principle were to result in a test which was less exacting than that resulting from the application of the nemo judex in sua causa principle. Public confidence in the integrity of the administration of justice is just as important, perhaps even more so, in criminal cases. Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms makes no distinction between civil and criminal cases in its expression of the right of everyone to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.

Your Lordships were referred by Miss Montgomery Q.C. in the course of her argument to Bradford v. McLeod 1986 S.L.T. 244. This is one of only two reported cases, both of them from Scotland, in which a decision in a criminal case has been set aside because a full-time salaried judge was in breach of this principle. The other is Doherty v. McGlennan 1997 S.L.T. 444. In neither of these cases could it have been said that the sheriff had an interest in the case which disqualified him. They were cases where the sheriff either said or did something which gave rise to a reasonable suspicion about his impartiality.

The test which must be applied by the appellate courts of criminal jurisdiction in England and Wales to cases in which it is alleged that there has been a breach of this principle by a member of an inferior tribunal is different from that which is used in Scotland. The test which was approved by your Lordships' House in Reg. v. Gough [1993] A.C. 646 is whether there was a real danger of bias on the part of the relevant member of the tribunal. I think that the explanation for this choice of language lies in the fact that it was necessary in that case to formulate a test for the guidance of the lower appellate courts. The aim, as Lord Woolf explained at p. 673, was to avoid the quashing of convictions upon quite insubstantial grounds and the flimsiest pretexts of bias. In Scotland the High Court of Justiciary applies the test which was described in Gough as the reasonable suspicion test. In Bradford v. McLeod 1986 S.L.T. 244, 247 it adopted as representing the law of Scotland the rule which was expressed by Eve J. in Law v. Chartered Institute of Patent Agents [1919] 2 Ch. 276, 279 where he said:

     "Each member of the council in adjudicating on a complaint thereunder is performing a judicial duty, and he must bring to the discharge of that duty an unbiased and impartial mind. If he has a bias which renders him otherwise than an impartial judge he is disqualified from performing that duty. Nay, more (so jealous is the policy of our law of the purity of the administration of justice), if there are circumstances so affecting a person acting in a judicial capacity as to be calculated to create in the mind of a reasonable man a suspicion of that person's impartiality, those circumstances are themselves sufficient to disqualify although in fact no bias exists."

The Scottish system for dealing with criminal appeals is for all appeals from the courts of summary jurisdiction to go direct to the High Court of Justiciary in its appellate capacity. It is a simple, one-stop system, which absolves the High Court of Justiciary from the responsibility of giving guidance to inferior appellate courts as to how to deal with cases where questions have been raised about a tribunal's impartiality. Just as Eve J. may be thought to have been seeking to explain to members of the council of the Chartered Institute in simple language the test which they should apply to themselves in performing their judicial duty, so also the concern of the High Court of Justiciary has been to give guidance to sheriffs and lay justices as to the standards which they should apply to themselves in the conduct of criminal cases. The familiar expression that justice must not only be done but must also be seen to be done serves a valuable function in that context.

Although the tests are described differently, their application by the appellate courts in each country is likely in practice to lead to results which are so similar as to be indistinguishable. Indeed it may be said of all the various tests which I have mentioned, including the maxim that no-one may be a judge in his own cause, that they are all founded upon the same broad principle. Where a judge is performing a judicial duty, he must not only bring to the discharge of that duty an unbiased and impartial mind. He must be seen to be impartial.

As for the facts of the present case, it seems to me that the conclusion is inescapable that Amnesty International has associated itself in these proceedings with the position of the prosecutor. The prosecution is not being brought in its name, but its interest in the case is to achieve the same result because it also seeks to bring Senator Pinochet to justice. This distinguishes its position fundamentally from that of other bodies which seek to uphold human rights without extending their objects to issues concerning personal responsibility. It has for many years conducted an international campaign against those individuals whom it has identified as having been responsible for torture, extra-judicial executions and disappearances. Its aim is that they should be made to suffer criminal penalties for such gross violations of human rights. It has chosen, by its intervention in these proceedings, to bring itself face to face with one of those individuals against whom it has for so long campaigned.

But everyone whom the prosecutor seeks to bring to justice is entitled to the protection of the law, however grave the offence or offences with which he is being prosecuted. Senator Pinochet is entitled to the judgment of an impartial and independent tribunal on the question which has been raised here as to his immunity. I think that the connections which existed between Lord Hoffmann and Amnesty International were of such a character, in view of their duration and proximity, as to disqualify him on this ground. In view of his links with Amnesty International as the chairman and a director of Amnesty International Charity Limited he could not be seen to be impartial. There has been no suggestion that he was actually biased. He had no financial or pecuniary interest in the outcome. But his relationship with Amnesty International was such that he was, in effect, acting as a judge in his own cause. I consider that his failure to disclose these connections leads inevitably to the conclusion that the decision to which he was a party must be set aside.

LORD HUTTON

My Lords,

I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech of my noble and learned friend Lord Browne-Wilkinson. I gratefully adopt his account of the matters (including the links between Amnesty International and Lord Hoffmann) leading to the bringing of this petition by Senator Pinochet to set aside the order made by this House on 25 November 1998. I am in agreement with his reasoning and conclusions on the issue of the jurisdiction of this House to set aside that order and on the issues of election, waiver and abuse of process. In relation to the allegation made by Senator Pinochet, not that Lord Hoffmann was biased in fact, but that there was a real danger of bias or a reasonable apprehension or suspicion of bias because of Lord Hoffmann's links with Amnesty International, I am also in agreement with the reasoning and conclusion of Lord Browne-Wilkinson, and I wish to add some observations on this issue.

In the middle of the last century the Lord Chancellor, Lord Cottenham, had an interest as a shareholder in a canal company to the amount of several thousand pounds. The company filed a bill in equity seeking an injunction against the defendant who was unaware of Lord Cottenham's shareholding in the company. The injunction and the ancillary order sought were granted by the Vice-Chancellor and were subsequently affirmed by Lord Cottenham. The defendant subsequently discovered the interest of Lord Cottenham in the company and brought a motion to discharge the order made by him, and the matter ultimately came on for hearing before this House in Dimes v. Proprietors of Grand Junction Canal (1852) 3 H.L. Cas. 759. The House ruled that the decree of the Lord Chancellor should be set aside, not because in coming to his decision Lord Cottenham was influenced by his interest in the company, but because of the importance of avoiding the appearance of the judge labouring under the influence of an interest. Lord Campbell said at p. 793:

     "No one can suppose that Lord Cottenham could be, in the remotest degree, influenced by the interest that he had in this concern; but, my Lords, it is of the last importance that the maxim that no man is to be a judge in his own cause should be held sacred. And that is not to be confined to a cause in which he is a party, but applies to a cause in which he has an interest. Since I have had the honour to be Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench, we have again and again set aside proceedings in inferior tribunals because an individual, who had an interest in a cause, took a part in the decision. And it will have a most salutary influence on these tribunals when it is known that this high Court of last resort, in a case in which the Lord Chancellor of England had an interest, considered that his decree was on that account a decree not according to law, and was set aside. This will be a lesson to all inferior tribunals to take care not only that in their decrees they are not influenced by their personal interest, but to avoid the appearance of labouring under such an influence."

In his judgment in Reg. v. Gough [1993] A.C. 646, 659G my noble and learned friend Lord Goff of Chieveley made reference to the great importance of confidence in the integrity of the administration of justice, and he said:

     "In any event, there is an overriding public interest that there should be confidence in the integrity of the administration of justice, which is always associated with the statement of Lord Hewart C.J. in Rex v. Sussex Justices, Ex parte McCarthy [1924] 1 K.B. 256, 259, that it is 'of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.'"

Then at p. 661B, referring to the case of Dimes, he said:

     ". . . I wish to draw attention to the fact that there are certain cases in which it has been considered that the circumstances are such that they must inevitably shake public confidence in the integrity of the administration of justice if the decision is to be allowed to stand. Such cases attract the full force of Lord Hewart C.J.'s requirement that justice must not only be done but must manifestly be seen to be done. These cases arise where a person sitting in a judicial capacity has a pecuniary interest in the outcome of the proceedings. In such a case, as Blackburn J. said in Reg. v. Rand (1866) L.R. 1 Q.B. 230, 232: 'any direct pecuniary interest, however small, in the subject of inquiry, does disqualify a person from acting as a judge in the matter.' The principle is expressed in the maxim that nobody may be judge in his own cause (nemo judex in sua causa). Perhaps the most famous case in which the principle was applied is Dimes v. Proprietors of Grand Junction Canal (1852) 3 H.L.Cas. 759, in which decrees affirmed by Lord Cottenham L.C. in favour of a canal company in which he was a substantial shareholder were set aside by this House, which then proceeded to consider the matter on its merits, and in fact itself affirmed the decrees. Lord Campbell said, at p. 793:

        'No one can suppose that Lord Cottenham could be, in the remotest degree, influenced by the interest that he had in this concern; but, my Lords, it is of the last importance that the maxim that no man is to be a judge in his own cause should be held sacred.'

     In such a case, therefore, not only is it irrelevant that there was in fact no bias on the part of the tribunal, but there is no question of investigating, from an objective point of view, whether there was any real likelihood of bias, or any reasonable suspicion of bias, on the facts of the particular case. The nature of the interest is such that public confidence in the administration of justice requires that the decision should not stand."

Later in his judgment Lord Goff said at p. 664F, agreeing with the view of Lord Woolf at p. 673F, that the only special category of case where there should be disqualification of a judge without the necessity to inquire whether there was any real likelihood of bias was where the judge has a direct pecuniary interest in the outcome of the proceedings. However I am of opinion that there could be cases where the interest of the judge in the subject matter of the proceedings arising from his strong commitment to some cause or belief or his association with a person or body involved in the proceedings could shake public confidence in the administration of justice as much as a shareholding (which might be small) in a public company involved in the litigation. I find persuasive the observations of Lord Widgery C.J. in Regina v. Altrincham Justices, Ex parte Pennington [1975] 1 Q.B. 549, 552F:

     "There is no better known rule of natural justice than the one that a man shall not be a judge in his own cause. In its simplest form this means that a man shall not judge an issue in which he has a direct pecuniary interest, but the rule has been extended far beyond such crude examples and now covers cases in which the judge has such an interest in the parties or the matters in dispute as to make it difficult for him to approach the trial with the impartiality and detachment which the judicial function requires.

     "Accordingly, application may be made to set aside a judgment on the so-called ground of bias without showing any direct pecuniary or proprietary interest in the judicial officer concerned."

A similar view was expressed by Deane J. in Webb v. The Queen (1994) 181 C.L.R. 41, 74:

     "The area covered by the doctrine of disqualification by reason of the appearance of bias encompasses at least four distinct, though sometimes overlapping, main categories of case. The first is disqualification by interest, that is to say, cases where some direct or indirect interest in the proceedings, whether pecuniary or otherwise, gives rise to a reasonable apprehension of prejudice, partiality or prejudgment. . . . The third category is disqualification by association. It will often overlap the first and consists of cases where the apprehension of prejudgment or other bias results from some direct or indirect relationship, experience or contact with a person or persons interested in, or otherwise involved in, the proceedings."  (My emphasis)

An illustration of the approach stated by Lord Widgery and Deane J. in respect of a non-pecuniary interest is found in the earlier judgment of Lord Carson in Frome United Breweries Co. Ltd. v. Bath Justices [1926] A.C. 586, 618 when he cited with approval the judgments of the Divisional Court in Reg. v. Fraser (1893) 9 T.L.R. 613. Lord Carson described Fraser's case as one:

     ". . . where a magistrate who was a member of a particular council of a religious body one of the objects of which was to oppose the renewal of licences, was present at a meeting at which it was decided that the council should oppose the transfer or renewal of the licences, and that a solicitor should be instructed to act for the council at the meeting of the magistrates when the case came on. A solicitor was so instructed, and opposed the particular licence, and the magistrate sat on the bench and took part in the decision. The Court in that case came to the conclusion that the magistrate was disqualified on account of bias, and that the decision to refuse the licence was bad. No one imputed mala fides to the magistrate, but Cave J., in giving judgment, said: 'the question was, What would be likely to endanger the respect or diminish the confidence which it was desirable should exist in the administration of justice?' Wright J. stated that although the magistrate had acted from excellent motives and feelings, he still had done so contrary to a well settled principle of law, which affected the character of the administration of justice."

I have already stated that there was no allegation made against Lord Hoffmann that he was actually guilty of bias in coming to his decision, and I wish to make it clear that I am making no finding of actual bias against him. But I consider that the links, described in the judgment of Lord Browne-Wilkinson, between Lord Hoffmann and Amnesty International, which had campaigned strongly against General Pinochet and which intervened in the earlier hearing to support the case that he should be extradited to face trial for his alleged crimes, were so strong that public confidence in the integrity of the administration of justice would be shaken if his decision were allowed to stand. It was this reason and the other reasons given by Lord Browne-Wilkinson which led me to agree reluctantly in the decision of the Appeal Committee on 17 December 1998 that the order of 25 November 1998 should be set aside.

 
previous

Lords Parliament Commons Search Contact Us Index

© Parliamentary copyright 1999
Prepared 15 January 1999