Lawyers representing Equal Opportunity Tribunal (EOT) Chairman Donna Prowell-Raphael have claimed that High Court Judge Avason Quinlan-Williams was apparently biased against her when she (Quinlan-Williams) upheld EOT lay assessor Veera Bhajan’s lawsuit over being allegedly blocked from taking up her appointment.

Apparent bias was one of five grounds raised by Prowell-Raphael’s legal team in her notice of appeal against Quinlan-Williams’ judgement, filed earlier this week.

In the court filings, obtained by Guardian Media, Prowell-Raphael’s legal team said: “The learned judge erred in law and/or demonstrated apparent bias against the Appellant in making comments that were excessive and exceeded the reasonable bounds of judicial criticism which would lead a fair-minded and informed observer to conclude that the learned judge was actuated by bias and/or demonstrated apparent bias in arriving at her orders and decisions.”

They claimed that Quinlan-Williams sought to impute Prowell-Raphael’s character and professional standing by making negative comments, which were not supported by the evidence before her.

They also complained that Quinlan-Williams failed to present a legal and factual analysis of the case before she upheld it in favour of Bhajan.

As a secondary issue, her legal team is contending that Quinlan-Williams did not have the jurisdiction to order both Prowell-Raphael and the tribunal to pay compensation as such was not properly pleaded by Bhajan’s lawyers in the lawsuit.

In her third ground, Prowell-Raphael is claiming that Quinlan-Williams did not properly explain her decision to dismiss their application to retroactively refuse leave for Bhajan to pursue her judicial review lawsuit.

“The learned judge erred by failing to consider all of the Appellant’s undisputed evidence that Bhajan’s appointment could not have been facilitated because the Tribunal was closed due to logistical and infrastructural problems which was the underlying reason for the inability to facilitate Bhajan,” they said.

Prowell-Raphael’s legal team claimed that as she was not cross-examined in the lawsuit, the court had no contrary evidence to suggest that her actions were in bad faith and were the result of viciousness and hatred.

Through the appeal, Prowell-Raphael is asking the Appeal Court to overturn the judgement and dismiss Bhajan’s case or for it to be heard and determined by another judge.

In her judgement on November 23, Quinlan-Williams ruled that the tribunal and Prowell-Raphael acted illegally and beyond their statutory remit in taking the action.

In addition to issuing declarations against the tribunal and Prowell-Raphael, Quinlan-Williams ordered that Bhajan be paid her salary and benefits which were withheld since March, plus interest. She also ordered that Bhajan’s appointment, which took effect on March 17, be immediately facilitated as well as damages to highlight the court’s strong feelings over what transpired in the case, as she said in deciding on the case the song ‘pure hate and acting normal’ came to mind.

“There ought to be a sense of public outrage over what occurred,” Quinlan-Williams said, as she described the attempts to block the appointment of Bhajan as disturbing and off-putting.