Data obtained from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) through an Access to Information Request reveals vast disparities in refugee claim grant rates across IRB Members in 2009.

In 2009, some Members very rarely granted refugee status, including David Mcbean (0%, 72 decisions) and Berto Volpentesta (4.27%, 117 decisions). Others granted refugee status in most of the cases they heard, including Stuart Mutch (86.36%, 176 decisions) and Barry Barnes (82.01%, 189 decisions). For further details see tables 1-3.

It is important to note that some of the grant rate variation may be due to Member specialization in particular types of cases. For example, some Members are assigned a large number of expedited cases, which generally result in positive decisions. Similarly, some Members specialize in geographic regions with especially high or low refugee claim grant rates. For further possible explanations for variations in grant rates, please follow the link below to an IRB explanatory note (obtained as part of a prior access to information request).

Although some of the grant rate variation can be explained by factors related to Member specialization, the tables below suggest that even when one accounts for such factors, massive disparities in Member grant rates persist. For further details, see tables 4-8.

Note that, unlike in past years, the 2009 data includes information about counsel for refugee claimants. This data appears to indicate that representation at the IRB is an important factor in outcomes. Whereas the average grant rate at the IRB in 2009 was 54.90%, the figure drops to only 14.67% when claimants were unrepresented. For further details, see table 9.

The data may be of use to advocates for refugees, especially in the context of debates over reforms to Canada’s refugee determination system. The information may also be of particular interest for lawyers seeking to judicially review negative refugee determinations made by Members with extremely low grant rates.

For a discussion of the methodology used to obtain the data and to calculate the statistics, as well as a full analysis of the implications of similar data for a previous year, see Sean Rehaag, “Troubling Patterns in Canadian Refugee Adjudication” (2008) 39 Ottawa Law Review 335,


1. Grant Rates, by Members (Alphabetical Order)
2. Grant Rates, by Members (Organized by Grant Rate)
3. Extreme Grant Rates, Members Deciding 50+ Cases
4. Grant Rates, by Country of Origin and Members
5. Grant Rates, by Members and Country of Origin
6. Grant Rates, by Country of Origin
7. Expected Grant Rates, by Members (Based on IRB Averages for COO)
8. Extreme Variations Between Expected and Actual Grant Rates, Members Deciding 50+Cases (Based on IRB Averages for COO)
9. Grant Rates, represented/unrepresented
10. Full Data
11. IRB Explanatory Note (2008)


• The underlying data was obtained from the IRB through Access to Information Request #A-2009-00071.
• The underlying data includes only principal claimant refugee determinations where a decision was mailed to the claimant in 2009.
• The tables include only cases that resulted in positive or negative decisions (i.e. excluding cases that were abandoned, withdrawn, or otherwise administratively resolved). The tables do not consolidate different spellings for Members (i.e. Richard Dawson and Richard Dawsonx are treated as two different Members because they are listed separately in the IRB’s database, even there is only one Richard Dawson).
• In previous years, “Claim Type” information was available. However, according to the IRB, this information was no longer recorded as of December 2006.

To be cited as: Sean Rehaag, “2009 Refugee Claim Data & IRB Member Grant Rates” (29 March 2010) online:

Sean Rehaag
Assistant Professor
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University