Consistency in asylum adjudication: Country guidance and the asylum process in the United Kingdom

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National refugee and asylum determination procedures are often criticised for producing inconsistent decisions. This article examines the establishment and operation of a new and innovative technique that has been developed in the United Kingdom (UK) by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) to promote consistency in asylum decision making: the country guidance (CG) concept. Since 2004, the Tribunal has regularly produced 'country guidance determinations' that seek to provide authoritative guidance on recurring 'country issues' commonly encountered in individual asylum claims and that need to be taken into account by asylum decision makers. In order to examine the country guidance system, this article considers its following aspects: the function of country guidance in the context of the asylum decision task; the management and oversight of the country guidance system by the Tribunal; the range of country information upon which the Tribunal relies; the techniques utilised by the Tribunal to issue country guidance; the legal status of such decisions; and the expertise in country conditions that the task of issuing country guidance presupposes. Finally, the article offers an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the country guidance system. It will be shown that country guidance both occupies a distinctive place in the UK's asylum determination process and performs an important role in ensuring consistency; at the same time, care is required to ensure that the guidance provided is authoritative and that it is applied appropriately. © The Author (2008). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-532
Number of pages43
JournalInternational Journal of Refugee Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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