The applicant was refused asylum, but his sister-in-law was successful on appeal before the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The applicant subsequently sought the Minister’s consent pursuant to Section 17(7) of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended, to allow him to make a further application for asylum, on the basis that his sister-in-law had been successful before the Tribunal. The Minister refused the request, stating that the new evidence did not significantly add to the likelihood of the applicant qualifying for asylum on the totality of the evidence already available and considered. The applicant challenged this refusal by way of judicial review, claiming that the Minister applied the wrong legal test and had breached his right to equality of treatment.
The Court quashed the Minister’s decision, holding that the Minister had acted unlawfully in refusing his consent to the Section 17(7) application, that the Minister had erred in holding that the comparisons between the two cases were not relevant, that the applicant was entitled to go to the relevant bodies established under the asylum legislation to make a further application and that, since the right of an applicant to a new hearing is dependant on obtaining the Minister’s consent, the Minister is obliged to act fairly and in accordance with the principles of natural justice and not arbitrarily as in the instant case. The Court held that as Section 17(7) of the Act is a preliminary step in the process of having a new application considered it was important that the respondent not rule out the possibility of an applicant having a further claim considered where there is a realistic prospect that a favourable view could be taken of the new claim in cases where fundamental human rights and issues are at stake.