I. M. v The International Protection Appeals Tribunal and The Minister for Justice and Equality, Ireland and The Attorney General

JudgeMr. Justice Charles Meenan
Judgment Date28 February 2022
Neutral Citation[2022] IEHC 164
Docket Number[2020 No. 653 JR]
CourtHigh Court

In the Matter of Section 5 of the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000 (As Amended)

I. M.
The International Protection Appeals Tribunal and The Minister for Justice and Equality, Ireland and The Attorney General

[2022] IEHC 164

[2020 No. 653 JR]



JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Charles Meenan delivered on the 28 th day of February, 2022


. The applicant is a national of Georgia who made a claim for international protection in the State on 10 June 2019 on the basis that he would face persecution or serious harm as a result of an assault on him by an unnamed neighbour in 2009 and 2012 on the basis of ethnicity.


. The applicant was interviewed by the International Protection Office (“IPO”) under s.13(2) of the International Protection Act 2015 (“the Act of 2015”) on 24 June 2019. He submitted an International Protection Questionnaire and was interviewed under s.35 on 18 December 2019.


. The IPO issued a report pursuant to s.39 of the Act of 2015, dated 22 January 2020. This report determined that the applicant had not established a well-founded fear of persecution and that substantial grounds had not been shown for believing that he would face a real risk of serious harm. The IPO made a finding under s.39(4) that the applicant was from a safe country of origin. The applicant appealed to the first named respondent (the Tribunal) on 3 February 2020.


. The IPO set out and considered a number of material matters which the applicant claimed:-

  • (i) The applicant's nationality and personal circumstances;

  • (ii) The applicant was assaulted in 2009 outside his home by a neighbour;

  • (iii) The applicant was assaulted again in 2012 by the same neighbour at a party in his own yard;

  • (iv) The applicant's neighbour is “looking for him”.


. Following the submission of an appeal, there was an exchange of correspondence between the applicant's legal advisers and the Tribunal. The applicant had sought an oral hearing but the Tribunal adopted the position, and the report contained a finding, that the applicant's country of origin is a safe country of origin under s.39(4)(e) of the Act of 2015 and that, in accordance with s.43(b), the Tribunal would make its decision without holding an oral hearing unless it considered that it was not in the interests of justice to do so. In response, the applicant stated that he wished to have an oral hearing in order to put forward medical documentation. He maintained that credibility issues arose in the report in relation to injuries sustained by him. It was further stated that medical documentation was awaited from Georgia. Sometime later this documentation did arrive and the applicant made a submission seeking an oral hearing.


. The Tribunal issued its decision on 18 August 2020 and, for the reasons stated therein, found that the applicant was not entitled to subsidiary protection and affirmed the recommendation made by the IPO, pursuant to s.39(3)(c) of the Act of 2015, that the applicant should be given neither a refugee declaration nor a subsidiary protection declaration.


. Application for leave to seek certain reliefs by way of judicial review came, in the first instance, before Burns J. Having considered the matter, Burns J directed that the application for leave be on notice to the Tribunal and other respondents. In a written decision given by Burns J on 25 November 2020 ( [2020] IEHC 615) the applicant was granted leave to seek the following relief:-

“An Order of Certiorari sending forward to this Honourable Court for the purpose of being quashed the decision of the First Named Respondent [the Tribunal] dated 18 th August 2020 made under Section 46(3)(a) of [the Act of 2015] affirming the recommendation of [the IPO] under s.39(3)(c) of the Act that the Applicant be given neither refugee nor a subsidiary protection declaration.”


. The applicant in his written legal submissions to the Court helpfully set out the legal issues arising:-

  • (1) Did the Tribunal err in finding that it was not in the interests of justice to grant the applicant an oral hearing?

  • (2) Did the Tribunal err in finding that the applicant (as a member of a minority subject to ethnic cleansing) was not subject to persecution or serious harm and/or could avail of effective state protection?

  • (3) Did the Tribunal err, contrary to sections 28(4)(a) and (b) and section 33(b) of the Act, in the assessment of the medical report provided?

Oral hearing

. I have already referred to the correspondence that passed between the applicant's advisers and the Tribunal. In giving judgment on the issue of leave, Burns J stated:-

“… In the present case, the reason for requesting an oral hearing was asserted to be that the Applicant could explain medical reports to the First Respondent and explain the reason for their late submission. With respect to this issue, the Court does not understand how the Applicant could give evidence explaining an expert's report and does not understand how the interest of justice required an oral hearing to take place to explain the delay in obtaining this documentation. …”


. I agree with the views expressed by Burns J. The applicant may well have been of the view that the medical report contained insufficient information. If this be the case, then it would not be for the applicant himself to expand on the report. Also, it is very difficult to see how the delay in obtaining the reports needed to be explained by oral evidence.


. The fact that negative credibility findings were made by the IPO does not mean that an oral hearing is required. The Tribunal stated:-

“… The Tribunal is also capable of carrying out an assessment of the credibility of a claim for international protection without recourse to an oral hearing. The fact that negative credibility findings were made at first instance does not require, in and of itself, an oral hearing of the appeal. In a papers only appeal, the Tribunal remains required by section 28(2) of the Act of 2015 to carry out an assessment of the relevant aspects of application for international protection. The Tribunal is required to exercise extreme care in considering a papers only appeal. …”


. This decision of the Tribunal is supported by two authorities. Firstly, M.A. v. Refugee Appeals Tribunal [2015] IEHC 528 and, secondly, S.H.I. v. The International Protection Tribunal [2019] IEHC 269.


. It follows from the foregoing that the Tribunal considered the applicant's request for an oral hearing and rejected this request having correctly applied the statutory provisions and having correctly considered the relevant authorities.

Findings of the Tribunal

. In his Statement of Grounds, the applicant contends that a number of aspects of the impugned decision were unlawful and/or irrational and/or unfair:-

  • (i) The Tribunal erred in finding...

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1 cases
  • G.A. v International Protection Appeals Tribunal
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 23 June 2022
    ...from their solicitors of 13 November 2020. 153 . In a recent decision by Meenan J. delivered on 28 February 2022 in I.M. v. IPAT & Ors [2022] IEHC 164, this court decided on the substantive hearing in respect of which Burns J. had previously given leave (see I.M. v. IPAT & Ors [2020] IEHC 6......

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