EMO v Minister for Justice and Equality

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Respondent/Defendant:Minister for Justice and Equality
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2015] IEHC 444
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:13 Jul 2015
Judge:MacEochaidh J.
Category:Deportation
Keywords:Deportation, Deportation Order
Country of Origin:Nigeria
URL:http://www.courts.ie/Judgments.nsf/0/21A7AFBD6720F07480257E850050A557
Geographic Focus:Ireland

Facts:
The applicant obtained leave to challenge a refusal of the Minister for Justice to revoke a deportation order in respect of him and, having obtained an interim injunction enjoining his deportation at that time, then sought an interlocutory injunction.

In the letter seeking revocation, the applicant’s solicitors repeated submissions which had been made in respect of the leave to remain application some years earlier. It asserted that the applicant and the Irish citizen were in a relationship, that she was in a comparatively disadvantageous position in comparison with a non-Irish EU citizen who was in a relationship with a third country national in Ireland. The only new factor submitted in connection with the application was that the couple stated their intention to marry in the State.

Refusal of the application was recommended on the basis that no information had been submitted to warrant revoking the order, it being noted that successful applicants for revocation of deportation orders had to advance matters which were truly materially different from those presented or capable of being presented on the application for leave to remain.

The court held that, as it had granted the applicant leave to seek judicial review based on the existence of substantial grounds for contending that the decision ought to be quashed, arguable grounds for the grant of an interlocutory injunction had been established.

Reasoning:
Having regard to the decision of the Supreme Court in Okunade v. Minister for Justice the court held that it should respect the deportation order and not interfere with it unless some special facts or circumstances were found which tilted the balance in favour of granting an injunction.

The applicant contended that such facts were present, contending that the Minister had taken four years and five months to deal with his application for leave to remain in the State; that during that time he had retained his passport and interfered with his right to marry; that his relationship had developed and deepened during the delay in dealing with his application for leave to remain; that the Irish citizen had indicated that she would not be in a position to relocate to Nigeria; and that if the applicant were deported, the relationship would be permanently sundered.

The court considered that no explanation had been provided by the Minister as to why it took four years and five months to deal with the applicant’s application for leave to remain, during which time he formed a very strong bond with the Irish citizen, who had three miscarriages. There was no satisfactory explanation, either, for the withholding of the applicant’s passport. It had been indicated that it would be returned on the completion of the application for leave to remain, but that had not happened. It held that, had the passport been returned at an appropriate time, then the couple would have married and that their circumstances would have been materially different. A different revocation application would have been made had that occurred. It emphasised that disruption of a romantic relationship would not normally be sufficient to ground an application for an injunction to prevent deportation and that that was not a relevant factor in its considerations.

Decision:
Having regard to the above, the court decided to grant an interlocutory injunction enjoining the applicant’s deportation.

Principles:

The default position that deportation orders ought to be implemented may not apply where the Minister for Justice has taken a number of years to make a deportation order following an application for leave to remain, during which time the subject of the order has formed a relationship with an Irish citizen and, due to the withholding of his or her passport, been prevented from marrying the other party to the relationship.

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