The Applicants were a married couple, the husband Latvian, the wife Belarusian. Mr Drusinis found employment in Ireland in September 2007. His wife and stepdaughter moved to Ireland to join him in December 2008. In January 2009 Ms Druzinina applied to the Minister for a residence card under Regulation 6 of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 (now replaced by European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) (No.2) Regulations, amended in 2008) as the spouse of a Union citizen. She provided evidence to the Minister that her husband was in employment. The Regulations require that applications for residence cards for spouses of Union citizens be determined within six months, and further provide for a review of applications which are refused. In June 2009 the Minister wrote her saying that he had checked this information and discovered that her husband had been made redundant in February 2009. For this reason he refused her a residence card and warned that her permission to be in the State would expire in July 2009.
Ms Druzinina’s solicitors then submitted to the Minister that Mr Druzinins, as a job seeker, was still exercising his EU Treaty rights under Regulation 6(2)(a) and requested that the Minister review his decision. Ms Druzinina’s permission to remain in the State expired in July 2009. In August 2009 the Minister sought further information for the purposes of such a review. The information was duly furnished to the Minister. In September and October Ms Druzinina’s solictor’s pressed the Minister for a decision, stressing the six month time limit and the difficulty created for her by the expiry of her permission to remain in the State. In November 2009 judicial review proceedings were initiated. As part of their reliefs, the Applicants sought an order obliging the Minister to issue a residence card to Ms Druzinina and an injunction requiring the Minister to issue a temporary permission pending to her pending the outcome of the proceedings. In February 2010, two days after leave for judicial review was granted by the High Court, the residence card was issued by the Minister and the proceedings became moot save for the issue of costs. In considering the matter of costs, the High Court considered whether the residence card for Ms Druzinina had been wrongfully refused or unlawfully delayed.
The Court held that there was no obligation on the Minister to conduct any inquiry as any chance in Mr Druzinins’ since the making of his wife’s application with a view to seeing whether she was entitled to qualify under any other condition of Regulation 6 (2). This decision was made within six months of the application. Accordingly, the Minister’s refusal of the residence card for Ms Druzinina was correct based on information before Minister at the time he made the decision.
The Court held that the six month time limit does not apply to the review but that if the review of the decision is directed only at correcting an error made by the Minister on the original application without altering its basis or requiring new facts or documentation to be considered, it would be consistent with the time limit imposed by Regulation 7 (2) that the decision should be taken well within a further six month period.
Whether or not there is delay in deciding upon a review as such will depend upon the nature and terms of the review requested, the error alleged, the submissions made and the other circumstances of the individual case. The Court held that the period of ten weeks between the application for a review and the initiation of the proceedings was not so excessive as to amount to a wrongful refusal on the part of the Minister.
However, the Court stated that the Minister ought to have granted Ms Druzinina a temporary permission while he was reviewing his refusal of her initial application, and that his failure to do so meant that the Applicants’ initiation of judicial review proceedings was neither unreasonable nor premature. The Court concluded that the balance of justice would be served by awarding the Applicants 50% of their costs against the Minister.