Commission Welcomes Supreme Court Ruling in Significant Right to Private and Family Life Case

Commission Exercised Amicus Curiae Role in Case of Two Families

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has welcomed today’s Supreme Court ruling on the rights of the families of Non-EEA nationals registered in Ireland before 1 January 2011 and who have been permitted to work and study in the State.

The Commission appeared as amicus curiae (“friend of the Court”) in the cases, which addressed the duty of the Minister for Justice and Equality to consider the right to private and family life guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in deciding whether or not to renew or vary their status in the State.

As amicus curiae (friend of the court), the Commission did not take any side in the case, but was allowed by the court to advise it in respect of the human rights and equality issues arising. The Commission argued in its legal submissions to the Court that the Minister for Justice and Equality is obliged under the ECHR to consider the right to private and family life in making decisions on changes to immigration status.

In its unanimous judgment, delivered today by Mr Justice MacMenamin, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s judgment that the Minister had a duty in these two cases to consider the families’ right to private and family life, and dismissed the appeal.

The Supreme Court emphasised that this meant that the families had been entitled to a consideration of their right to private and family life by the Minister.

The Commission previously appeared as amicus curiae in these proceedings before the Court of Appeal, which ruled in favour of the two families.

Responding to the ruling, Emily Logan Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“Today’s ruling is an important one, as the denial of fundamental rights, such as the right to private and family life to non-Irish citizens, would deprive foreign nationals who have been legally resident for many years of important protections.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editor’s Note

The Commission’s full written amicus curiae submissions are available at the following link:

https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/2017/11/IHREC-_-submissions-_-Luxmimon-v-MJE-2017_09-_-Balchand-v-MJE-2017_10_97214_97648.pdf

Background

Nationals of Mauritius did not require visas to enter the State when the two families in question arrived in Ireland. They were lawfully resident in the State for several years, however, a change in policy in 2011 imposed a seven-year time limit on their stay. As the end of the term of their lawful residence approached, the families applied for extension/renewals of their permissions to stay, taking into account their family circumstances in the State, which was refused.

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.

Section 10 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act sets out the functions of the Commission and Section 10(2)(e) provides that the IHREC shall have a function:

“to apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for liberty to appear before the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, as amicus curiae in proceedings before that Court that involve or are concerned with the human rights or equality rights of any person and to appear as such an amicus curiae on foot of such liberty being granted (which liberty each of the said courts is hereby empowered to grant in its absolute discretion).”

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

 

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