AB v Road Safety Authority

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Respondent/Defendant:Road Safety Authority
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2021] IEHC 217
Nature of Proceedings:Appeal
Judgment Date/s:25 Mar 2021
Judge:Creedon E
Category:International protection, Residence
Keywords:Asylum Applicant, Discrimination (Indirect), Residence Document, Residence Permit
Country of Origin:India
URL:https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/a6f51761-a591-46b8-8d2c-299e8fb6f7df/2021_IEHC_217.pdf/pdf#view=fitH

Facts: AB applied for international protection in Ireland in 2015. AB lived in Munster and worked in Co. Dublin. AB was unable to move to Dublin due to a lack of direct provision accommodation in that area. AB held a Temporary Residence Certificate (TRC) under s. 16(1) of the International Protection Act 2015, which allowed her to remain in the State pending the determination of her application for international protection. AB applied respondent for a learner driver permit on the 31st October 2018. This application was not accepted on the basis that the application had failed to include valid evidence of AB’s residency entitlement. AB had submitted a copy of her TRC in support of her application.
AB filed a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission in which she complained that the refusal of her application for a learner permit amounted to discrimination on grounds of race contrary to the Equal Status Acts 2000 – 2015. This complaint was heard on the 4th September 2019. On 28th January 2020 the Workplace Relations Commission found in favour of AB. This decision was appealed by the respondent to the Circuit Court which allowed the appeal on the 30th July 2020. AB then appealed the decision of the Circuit Court to the High Court.
AB argued that the Circuit Court erred in law in its interpretation of the Road Traffic (Licencing of Drivers) Regulations 2006 (as amended), and in particular in concluding that these regulations imposed a requirement to provide evidence of residency entitlement in Ireland. It was also argued that the Circuit Court erred in law in its interpretation of the concept of residence for the purposes of the regulations, including by adopting, expressly or by implication, an interpretation of the concept of “normal residence” that was contrary to its plain meaning and contrary to EU law. Finally, AB argued that the Circuit Court erred in law in its interpretation of the Equal Status Acts 2000 – 2015 in its conclusion that the conduct of the Respondent did not discriminate against the Appellant on the ground of race.

Decision: The High Court found that the Circuit Court did not err in law in its interpretation of the Road Traffic (Licensing of Drivers) Regulations 2006 (as amended), and in particular that the Circuit Court did not err in law in concluding that the said regulations imposed a requirement to provide evidence of residency entitlement in Ireland. The High Court also held that the Circuit Court did not err in law in its interpretation of the concept of residence for the purposes of the Regulations including by adapting expressly or by implication an interpretation of the concept of “normal residence” that was contrary to its plain meaning and contrary to EU law. Finally, the High Court held that the Circuit Court did not err in law in its interpretation of the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 in its conclusion that the respondent did not discriminate against AB on grounds of race. The High Court held that the actions of the respondent as they related to AB were required by legislative enactment and could not be the subject of an adverse finding pursuant to the Equal Status Acts, as what was in issue was the meaning and effect of the statutory enactments and not the individual treatment of AB by the respondent.

Principles:A person who is present in the State as an applicant for international protection is not “normally resident” in the State for the purposes of an application for a learner driver’s permit. The refusal of the permit on this basis did not constitute discrimination on grounds of race.
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