Judicial Review of Refugee Determinations: The Luck of the Draw?

58 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2012 Last revised: 9 Mar 2013

See all articles by Sean Rehaag

Sean Rehaag

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: March 22, 2012


This article offers an empirical examination of judicial review in Canada’s Federal Court in the refugee law context. Drawing on a dataset of over 23,000 applications for judicial review of refugee determinations from 2005 to 2010, the paper examines whether outcomes in these life-and-death applications turn on their merits, or whether, instead, they hinge on which judge is assigned to decide the application. The paper reveals that outcomes over the past five years frequently came down to the luck of the draw, with, for example, one judge more than 50 times as likely to grant applications than another judge. Based on these findings, the author offers several recommendations for reform to enhance fairness and consistency in this important area of law.

Keywords: Refugee law, immigration law, administrative law, public law, adjudication, Canada, Federal Court, access to justice, empirical legal studies

Suggested Citation

Rehaag, Sean, Judicial Review of Refugee Determinations: The Luck of the Draw? (March 22, 2012). Queen's Law Journal, Vol. 38, No. 1, 2012; Osgoode CLPE Research Paper No. 9/2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2027517 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2027517

Sean Rehaag (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

HOME PAGE: http://www.osgoode.yorku.ca/faculty-and-staff/rehaag-sean/

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