H.A. v Minister for Justice


H.A. v Minister for Justice
Court/s:Court of Appeal
Citation/s:[2022] IECA 166
Nature of Proceedings:Judicial Review
Judgment Date/s:22 Jul 2022
Judge: Donnelly A
Category:Asylum, Family Reunification, Refugee Law
Keywords:Asylum, Child, Family Reunification, Family Unity (Right to), Minor
Country of Origin:Somalia

 Facts: The respondent was a national of Somalia who was granted refugee status in Ireland. She applied for family reunification with her niece and nephew under section 56 of the International Protection Act 2015. Her niece and nephew are orphans and she had accepted responsibility for them. A ‘Declaration of Responsibility’ from Somalia was submitted in this regard. 

The application for family reunification was refused and the applicant challenged that refusal in judicial review proceedings. In the High Court, Ferriter J. held that the ‘Declaration of Responsibility’ was not referenced or engaged with by the Minister in making this decision. As a result, the High Court granted an order of certiorari quashing the Minister’s refusal decision.  

The Minister appealed this decision in the Court of Appeal.  

Reasoning: In the Court of Appeal, it was found that there was no evidence the decision maker considered the Declaration of Responsibility and that it was not referenced in the decision  issued. The Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court’s finding that the Declaration was relevant and material when considering if the niece and nephew could be considered children of the respondent. 

The Minister submitted that remitting the case for reconsideration was futile given that the Declaration of Responsibility would not be recognised as adoption in the State. However, the Court of Appeal, with reference to the Supreme Court decision in X v. Minister for Justice and Equality [2020] IESC 30, where it was found that the definition of child in the family reunification provisions of the International Protection Act 2015 (section 56) included only biological or adopted children, held that the precise meaning of adopted child was not addressed in X v Minister for Justice and Equality and as such the case should be remitted for reconsideration.   

Decision: The appeal was dismissed and the decision of the High Court was upheld. The case was remitted to the Minister for fresh consideration.   

Principles:In a decision on a family reunification application, the Minister must consider evidence submitted as regards the relationship of a parent to the child, in this case, a Declaration of Responsibility. This should be referenced in the decision issued by the decision maker.
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