Consistency on Findings of Credibility

Flickr photo by Jeff Sari (writer)

A huge concern amongst applicants who have previously submitted applications or documentation to a decision maker is whether their further submissions will contradict what they previously submitted, and whether this will materially negatively impact their credibility.

In short, the existence of contradictions or inconsistencies in the evidence of an individual or witness is a well-accepted basis for a finding of lack of credibility.  However, the discrepancies must be sufficiently serious and must concern matters that are relevant to warrant an adverse finding.

In Sheikh, Asad Javed v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), the Federal Court stated the following regarding the factors that should be considered when assessing inconsistencies or discrepancies:

The discrepancies relied on by the Refugee Division must be real. The Refugee Division must not display a zeal “to find instances of contradiction in the [claimant’s] testimony … it should not be over-vigilant in its microscopic examination of the evidence”. The alleged discrepancy or inconsistency must be rationally related to the [claimant’s] credibility. Explanations which are not obviously implausible must be taken into account.

Moreover, another line of cases establishes the proposition that the inconsistencies found by the Refugee Division must be significant and be central to the claim and must not be exaggerated.

[Citations removed.]

Finally, the Federal Court has cautioned, however, that, as between different cases, “[t]here can be no consistency on findings of credibility.” Credibility cannot be prejudged and is an issue to be determined by tribunal members in each case based on the circumstances of the individual claimant and the evidence.

Given the jurisprudence, it is generally far better to provide the supporting documentation than it is to be concerned about impacts on credibility.


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