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Taylor v Williamsons (A Firm), Court of Appeal, 17 July 2002

23 July 2002
The issues

Judicial bias – Judgment handed down prior to submissions.

The facts

Judge McGonigal sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court in Newcastle-upon-Tyne heard a preliminary issue in a professional negligence claim. At the conclusion of the evidence, the Judge directed Counsel to make closing submissions in writing before the 28th September. On the 27th September, he handed down a draft Judgment with a note that it would be handed down formally on the 26th October. No submissions had been received by the Judge at that point. The Claimant made an Application for an Order for the recall of the Judgment and that the Judge recuse himself and that there be a re-trial.

The Claimant appealed.

The decision

The Judge had put himself in the most unfortunate plight. It was an extraordinary but genuine failure of recollection on his part. There was no evidence of bias however. The Judge had expressed himself as prepared to reconsider his decision and had acknowledged his error as soon as it had been pointed out to him.

Appeal dismissed.

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