Mentally unfit, yet incredible?

Federal Court. If AAT receives and accepts medical evidence to the effect that a person is mentally unfit to attend a hearing but that person attends the hearing anyway, can AAT make adverse credibility findings based on oral submissions without meaningfully appreciating that that person's medical condition might have affected those submissions? Further, can it be legally unreasonable to refuse to allow a representative to appear and participate at a Tribunal hearing related to a Part 7-reviewable decision? We summarise the answer to those and many other questions.

The questions to the Federal Court (FCA) were as follows:

Question 1: If the Tribunal receives and accepts medical evidence to the effect that a person is mentally unfit to attend a hearing but that person attends the hearing anyway, can the Tribunal make adverse credibility findings based on oral submissions without meaningfully appreciating that that person's medical condition might have affected those submissions?

Question 2: Can it be said that the fact that a person may "suffer significant economic hardship that threatens that person’s capacity to subsist or to earn a livelihood by reason of mental illness does not, without more, satisfy the criteria for a protection visa under s 36(2)(a)" of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth)?

Question 3: Can it be said that the Tribunal "may fail to give an applicant an invitation in compliance with s 425 of the Migration Act even if it is unaware of the adverse impact of a mental illness upon the particular applicant’s capacity to represent herself or himself and give evidence"?

Question 4: Can it be legally unreasonable to refuse to allow a representative to appear and participate at a Tribunal hearing related to a Part 7-reviewable decision?

Question 5: If the answer to Question 4 is "yes", was it legally unreasonable for the Tribunal to refuse to allow a representative to assist the Appellant?

Question 6: Can a party "make supplementary submissions to the Court after an appeal has been heard, and whilst judgment is under consideration, without first obtaining the Court’s permission"?

Question 7: Can a court decided a case on the basis of an issue which was not raised by either party at the hearing or by the Court?

Question 8: Does the natural justice hearing rule prevent a Court from "relying upon an authority relevant to a matter in issue even if it was not raised by the parties or addressed at the hearing"?

The FCA answered those questions as follows:

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