The appellant had applied to the High Court for – inter alia – an order of certiorari quashing the decision of the Minister to refuse her refugee status. She also sought declarations that Section 16 (regarding appeals to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal) and Section 17(1) (regarding the declaration that person is a refugee) of the Refugee Act 1996 were repugnant to the Constitution.
The High Court refused to grant the relief sought but certified that its decision involved a point of law of exceptional public importance and that it was desirable that an appeal should be taken to the Supreme Court. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees applied to the Supreme Court for leave to appear as amicus curiae in the appeal. This was the first time the UNHCR had taken such a step. The Supreme Court agreed that an issue of public interest had arisen and the UNHCR might be in a position to assist the Court by making written and oral submissions on the question of law certified by the High Court provided the UNHCR bore its own costs.