The Applicant was a national of Cameroon who claimed asylum in Ireland. The Refugee Applications Commissioner recommended that he not be declared a refugee, and this recommendation was affirmed on appeal by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT). At the RAT hearing, there was no appearance by a representative of the Comissioner (usually known as a Presenting Officer). The Applicant’s Counsel had applied for an adjournment on the basis that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to proceed with the hearing of an appeal without a Presenting Officer. The RAT refused this application and proceeded to hear the appeal. The Applicant sought to have the decision of the RAT quashed on the basis that the Tribunal had erred in proceeding with his appeal despite the fact that there was no appearance by a representative of the Commissioner at the oral hearing. Leave to seek judicial review was granted in October 2009.
On substantive hearing of the application, the High Court held that although the Commissioner was entitled to be represented and to participate at RAT appeal hearings, the absence of a Presenting Officer did not deprive the RAT of jurisdiction. The presence of a Presenting Officer was not indispensable if the Commissioner did not require one to be present in a specific case and if the Tribunal was satisfied that the hearing could properly be conducted without one. The Applicant’s application for judicial review was accordingly refused.