On appeal from: [2013] CSIH 68.

Summary: The Court was asked whether weight should be given to linguistic opinion evidence provided by a commercial organisation Sprakab in the determination of two asylum claims.

The Court unanimously dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the Practice Directions contain guidance on the application of expert evidence and the form of the reports in this case did not constitute a bar to their admission. They did not have to be applied rigidly.

The UT had been right to ask questions relating to the report’s methodology and subject to certain safeguards, had been entitled to find no objection to the admission of the reports. The general guidance relied upon, given by the UT in RB (Somalia) v SSHD [2012] EWCA Civ 277 was for the most part appropriate, but in certain areas the Supreme Court held it was unduly prescriptive and potentially misleading. The UT was entitled to regard the guidance as persuasive on procedural matters, but it was no substitute for a critical analysis of the report.

In the present case, the evidence ought not to have been included and the appeal dismissed because the report showed evidence of inadequate expertise and in some areas went beyond the proper role of an expert witness.

For judgment, please download: [2014] UKSC 30
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII