Robert & Anor v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Respondent/Defendant:Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Court/s:Supreme Court
Citation/s:[2004] IEHC 348
Judgment Date/s:02 Nov 2004
Category:Naturalisation, Refugee Law
Keywords:Naturalisation, Refugee, Refugee Law, Refugee Status, Residence Permit

The Minister refused the Applicants’ requests for naturalisation on the basis that time spent in the asylum process did not contribute towards the residence requirement of five years. The Applicants sought to review the Minister’s decision, arguing, inter alia, that he had fettered his discretion in the exercise of the “absolute discretion” conferred on him in deciding whether to issue the applicants with certificates of naturalisation, by adhering to a policy not to take into account time spent in the asylum process in applications for naturalisation.

The High Court granted leave, but ultimately refused the applications, finding, inter alia, that the Minister had exercised his wide discretion in a manner on foot of a logical and fair policy which he was entitled to have regard to, that the granting of citizenship is a privilege and not a right and that the Minister’s policy permitted consideration to be given to any particular or exceptional circumstances in individual cases which might justify a departure from that policy.

The Court said that the policy of the Minister in not taking into account the time spent by an asylum seeker in the asylum process, in the case of a person who entered the State for the purpose of claiming asylum and subsequently withdrew that application prior to completion of that process, is completely logical and fair, provided that the discretion exercised is not fettered by a rigid adherence to the policy in a way that precludes consideration of particular exceptional circumstances.

Principles:Where an asylum applicant withdraws his claim and subsequently applies for naturalisation, time spent in the asylum process will not normally be relevant in calculating residence in the State for the purposes of seeking naturalisation.
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