KS (benefit of the doubt) [2014] UKUT 00552 (IAC)

Mailing or Enclosure

KS (benefit of the doubt) [2014] UKUT 00552 (IAC)


(1) In assessing the credibility of an asylum claim, the benefit of the doubt (“TBOD”), as discussed in paragraphs 203 and 204 of the 1979 UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status, is not to be regarded as a rule of law. It is a general guideline, expressed in the Handbook in defeasible and contingent terms.

(2) Although the Handbook confines TBOD to the end point of a credibility assessment (“After the applicant has made a genuine effort to substantiate his story”: paragraph 203), TBOD is not, in fact, so limited. Its potential to be used at earlier stages is not, however, to be understood as requiring TBOD to be given to each and every item of evidence, in isolation. What is involved is simply no more than an acceptance that in respect of every asserted fact when there is doubt, the lower standard entails that it should not be rejected and should rather continue to be kept in mind as a possibility at least until the end when the question of risk is posed in relation to the evidence in the round.

(3) Correctly viewed, therefore, TBOD adds nothing of substance to the lower standard of proof, which as construed by the Court of Appeal in Karanakaran v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2000] 3 All ER 449, affords a “positive role for uncertainty”.

(4) The proposition in paragraph 219 of the Handbook, that when assessing the evidence of minors there may need to be a “liberal application of the benefit of the doubt” is also not to be regarded as a rule of law or, indeed, a statement of universal application. As a reminder about what the examiner should bear in mind at the end point of an assessment of credibility, the proposition adds nothing of substance to the lower standard of proof. If, for example, an applicant possesses the same maturity as an adult, it may not be appropriate to resort to a liberal application of TBOD.

(5) Article 4(5) of the Qualification Directive is confined to setting out the conditions under which there will be no need for corroboration or “confirmation” of evidence. Although (unlike the Handbook) Article 4(5) does set out conditions that are rules of law, properly read, it is not to be compared with the scope of TBOD as described above.

Document Date
Issue Number