Federal Court. Appellant claimed in his protection visa application that he was arbitrarily detained in Ethiopia at the airport and driven to prison by a person he believed was a private driver. He claimed: he begged for driver to call his wife and tell where he was being taken to; and that the driver did so. AAT invited Appellant to speculate on why driver would have made the call. AAT itself speculated driver would not have called Appellant's wife. Was it irrational for AAT to rely on a matter the Appellant was asked to speculate about as a basis to make adverse credibility findings against him on the factual elements of which he had first-hand knowledge? Is the "adjectival description of “extreme” ... a necessary element in a finding of illogicality or irrationality"? How high is the materiality threshold?
The questions to the Federal Court (FCA) were as follows:
Question 1: Should decision-makers proceed with caution in a case where a person has given multiple versions of the basis for a claim before holding against that person the fact that there are discrepancies among the accounts of events given by that person?
Question 2: Is the "adjectival description of “extreme” ... a necessary element in a finding of illogicality or irrationality"?
Question 3: Can it be said that, although the disproportionality displayed by the "references to how the appellant’s wife discovered he was detained formed a miniscule part of the appellant’s narrative" would not itself make out jurisdictional error, "it may be indicative of an irrational focus by the Tribunal on the minutiae of an account, while ignoring and failing to consider the core facts related by the appellant and which were objectively more central to his claim about detention"?
Question 4: Was it "irrational for the Tribunal to rely on a matter the appellant was asked to speculate about (why a driver would contact his wife) as a basis to make adverse credibility findings against the appellant, and his wife"?
Question 5: In assessing whether an error by an administrative decision-maker was material to its decision and therefore jurisdictional, how high is the materiality threshold?
The FCA answered those questions as follows:
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