FV v Refugee Appeals Tribunal and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform


Respondent/Defendant:Refugee Appeals Tribunal; Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Court/s:High Court
Citation/s:[2009] IEHC 185
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:21 Jan 2009
Judge:Birminingham J.
Category:Refugee Law
Country of Origin:Togo
Geographic Focus:Ireland

The Applicant claimed to be a national of Togo who had been tortured as a result of his political activities. The Refugee Applications Commissioner recommended that he not be granted refugee status and this recommendation was affirmed by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT). The Applicant sought leave to judicially review the decision of the RAT on the grounds, inter alia, that a medical report he had submitted had not been given due weight, that country of origin information he had submitted had not been considered, that the decision was tainted by speculation as to his method of travel to Ireland and that the Tribunal had erred in finding that it had no jurisdiction to consider whether he would be persecuted as a failed asylum seeker if returned to Togo.

The Court held that the Tribunal was entitled to find that a medical report has limited value in advancing the Applicant’s claim or assessing his credibility as a doctor does not usually assess the credibility of a patient and in fact, it would not be appropriate for him to do so. The Court further held that where the Tribunal, in its decision, states specifically that it has considered country of origin information, there is an onus on the Applicant to overcome that assertion. The Applicant in the present case failed to discharge that onus. The Court also found that while the Tribunal may not engage in speculation and conjecture, it is fully entitled to draw inferences and make deductions. In the present case the Tribunal member was entitled to draw on his own experiences of travelling by air and was entitled to attach significance that to his knowledge, there was no flight from Ghana to Dublin which involved a 20 minute stop-over in Amsterdam, as had been claimed by the Applicant.

The Court then dealt with the Tribunal’s finding in relation to the Applicant’s status as a failed asylum seeker and the risk of persecution as such if he was returned to Togo. The Tribunal appeared to have proceeded on the basis that it lacked jurisdiction in this regard. While the case advanced by the Applicant on this ground was not particularly strong, having advanced a case on a particular basis, he was entitled to have it considered by the Tribunal. The Court found that there were substantial grounds for challenging the decision of the Tribunal in this regard and granted leave for judicial review on that basis.


The RAT is entitled to rely on his own experience of travelling by air in assessing an asylum seeker’s account of his travel to the State. If an Applicant advances a case on a particular basis, the Applicant is entitled to have it considered.

Go Back