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No objective bias established on part of judge hearing proceedings in strategic infrastructure development list

By: Ian Fitzharris BL

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High Court, in strategic infrastructure development judicial review proceedings, gives its judgment on its decision (initially given mid hearing of the proceedings) not to accede to the applicant's application for the judge to recuse himself from the proceedings on grounds of objective bias by reason of the fact that the judge represented the notice party to the proceedings previously as a barrister, on the grounds that: the applicant has failed to establish a cogent and rational link between the association of the judge with with the party and its capacity to influence the decision to be made in the case; and the circumstances of the judge's prior involvement are not such as to establish a rational apprehension of objective bias on his part in the context of proceedings which have been tightly case managed up to hearing and where a reasonable observer would not be alerted to potential bias or a perception of such given the background to the prior involvement of the judge with the notice party.

Judicial review - planning and development - decision of an Bord Pleanála granting planning permission to notice party for strategic infrastructure development project - application to trial judge to recuse himself on grounds of prior representation of notice party in factual matters relating to proceedings - objective test - whether a lower threshold applies in case of a recusal application made to a (trial) judge than a judge deciding an appeal - 'real ground for doubt' criterion in caselaw - test to be applied - whether circumstances of previous engagement could give rise to a real doubt in the mind of a reasonable fair minded objective observer - reasonable apprehension of objective bias - particulars of previous involvement in representing notice party - mere fact that a judge has not declared a prior professional engagement or relationship will not give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias - whether judge subject to an application to recuse himself on basis of objective bias can assess the substance of the application in an impartial manner - prior professional associations of board members and a failure to make necessary declarations and disclosures - duty of judge to sit and hear case which has been assigned - application of legal principles applying to a recusal application could not contaminate the application of the same principles to an issue of objective bias on part of decision maker - closely case managed proceedings

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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