Legal Word of the Day: “Reasonable Apprehension of Bias”


“Reasonable Apprehension of Bias” — A reasonable apprehension of bias is the standard by which a judge or decision maker can be removed.

Bias is a predisposition to rule in favour of one side to the detriment of the other. The bias can be real or perceived.

Justice de Grandpré explained the test for reasonable apprehension of bias in his dissenting reasons in Liberty v. National Energy Board, [1978] 1 S.C.R. 369, at p. 394:

    [T]he apprehension of bias must be a reasonable one held by reasonable and right minded persons, applying themselves to the question and obtaining thereon the required information. … [T]hat test is “what would an informed person, viewing the matter realistically and practically – and having thought the matter through – conclude. Would he think that it is more likely than not that [the judge], whether consciously or unconsciously, would not decide fairly.”



Contributed by Paralegal Patrick Kelly. He is a Southern Ontario paralegal whose practice includes tribunal work and small claims matters. Reach Patrick at: 416-938-0137

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