Apparent bias: Helow v Secretary of State for the Home Department
One of the most difficult questions that can be asked about the law governing judicial bias is what the concept of "apparent bias" entails. In R. V Gough, the House of Lords held that a judge will appear to be biased if there is, in the opinion of the court, "a real danger" that the judge was actually biased. This test for apparent bias held sway for nearly a decade until the Court of Appeal, prompted mainly by the entry into force of the Human Rights Act 1998, effected what it described as a "modest adjustment" to it in Director General of Fair Trading v Proprietary Association of Great Britain; sub nom. In Re Medicaments and Related Classes of Good (No.2). According to the modified test, apparent bias existes if the fictious fair-minded and informed observer would think that there was a real possibility that the judge was biased. While the revised test is now well established, its precise contours have been the subject of heated debate. The House of Lords has itself been called on to consider the new test seven times. The most recent of these decisions is Helow v Secretary of State for the Home Department.