The risotto mishearing

Posted on Aug 28, 2020 | 0 comments


Although the “risotto mishearing” could be the title of a masterchef themed spy thriller, it was actually the first ground of appeal in Gill v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2017] FCAFC 51. The issue was whether the applicant had provided a bogus letter about his work experience as a cook. He was quizzed at length in the tribunal and on appeal the issue became whether the tribunal’s fact finding was “illogical” (one of the limited bases on which fact finding can be a jurisdictional error).

It’s pretty clear from the court’s judgment what went wrong in the tribunal:

  1. The primary judge found that the appellant used the word “rizolos” on several occasions and that the Tribunal misunderstood this as a reference to “risotto”…
  2. Rissoles were included among the non-exhaustive list of dishes mentioned in the work experience letter, but risotto was not.  The Tribunal’s misunderstanding that the appellant was referring to “risotto” was an important part of the Tribunal’s reasoning for concluding that the work experience letter was not genuine and the appellant was not a credible witness.  The Tribunal’s incredulity on this matter related to the appellant’s evidence that he prepared risotto using rice and flour.  When the Tribunal member repeatedly asked the appellant to say what kind of “risottos” were on the menu, on three separate occasions he said “Italian”.  There was a total breakdown in communication between the appellant and the Tribunal on this subject matter in that the appellant was evidently referring to Italian rissoles, while the Tribunal member was talking about Italian risottos.  The miscommunication was perhaps exacerbated by the repeated reference to the dish being “Italian”.

You can read more about “bangers and mash” and the crumbing of chicken schnitzel in the judgment….and yes this was a jurisdictional error.

Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph.

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