The Applicant was a national of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He arrived in Ireland in August 2004. He claimed asylum on the grounds that he feared persecution in the DRC as a member of Bundu Dia Kongo (‘BDK’), a politico-religious movement which seeks autonomy for the DRC’s Bas-Congo province. The Applicant’s wife travelled to Ireland independently of her husband in the company of their two infant children. She claimed asylum for reasons similar to those of her husband. The Refugee Applications Commissioner rejected the claims of the Applicant and his wife. Their appeals against the Commissioner’s recommendation were heard together by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal in September 2007. The Applicant and his wife both gave evidence. Neither appeal was successful. The Tribunal was unconvinced, on the basis of certain inconsistencies between the Applicant’s evidence and that of his wife, that the Applicant had ever been a member of BDK. For that reason, he did not consider medical evidence to the effect that scars and marks on his body were consistent with the account he gave. The Applicant sought leave of the High Court to challenge the Tribunal’s decision by way of judicial review.
In the High Court, Clark J was concerned that the major discrepancies in the separate stories of the Applicant and his wife had infected the evidence of both parties where the evidence of the Applicant on his own may have been credible. The Court held, in granting leave for judicial review, that the Applicant had shown substantial grounds that the Tribunal was disproportionately influenced by flaws in the narrative given by the Applicant’s wife and ignored the Applicant’s greater knowledge and awareness of the BDK. The Court also granted leave to seek judicial review on the grounds that the Tribunal’s negative assessment of the Applicant’s credibility led him wrongly to reject the medical evidence.