This paper will show that in the judicial context in Germany, refugee status determination is part of a wider whole of legal decision-making, operating around professional and personal strategies, similarly applicable in other areas of law. Hence the myth of difference promulgated in the refugee status determination literature is de-constructed by the realities of routine decision-making in a necessarily indeterminate legal environment. Instead, the paper will propose a framework delineating how underlying principles and methods of fact-finding and fact evaluation serve to shape and ultimately homogenise outcomes. In drawing parallels to other areas of law and the literature on judicial decision-making, it shows how law and experience, legal reasoning and intuition in fact converge to test claims and solve cases and how personal strategies, like pragmatism and rule adherence serve to provide certainty in an uncertain legal terrain.

This research is based on extensive fieldwork at two different administrative courts in Germany. Data collection was built on a tripartide structure: Courtroom observations, case and file material and most importantly semi-structured interviews with judges and lawyers, "studying up", focusing primarily on the institutions, policies and the relevant agents rather than the asylum-seekers themselves.