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Judgment in the Calais children case


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Full judgment is available here: R (on the application of ZAT and Others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Article 8 ECHR – Dublin Regulation – interface – proportionality) IJR [2016] UKUT 61 (IAC). The applicant children were all clearly very vulnerable and all had family members in the UK. They would all eventually have been admitted to the UK under the Dublin Convention to join their family members here, but the delays caused by the French authorities were considerable and unconscionable. A best case scenario was that it would take one year.

Owing to factors including age, mental disability, the psychological damage already done, the clear likelihood of further psychological turmoil and disturbance, the pressing and urgent need for family reunification on the very special facts of these cases and the fact that the children would all be well cared for in the UK, the tribunal held that an exception should be made to the normal Dublin process and the children should be admitted immediately.

The main conclusion and summary of reasons:

We are satisfied that the Secretary of State’s refusal to permit the swift admission to the United Kingdom of the first four Applicants would interfere disproportionately with the right to respect to family life under Article 8 ECHR enjoyed by all seven Applicants if the first four Applicants could properly be seen as claimants to refugee status who, because of the operation of the Dublin Regulation, to be able to have their claims determined in the United Kingdom where their siblings are. In their cases, the negative aspects of pursuing a full blown Dublin Regulation claim in France would detrimentally affect all seven Applicants in the manner set forth in [55] above. The sole difficulty then is that having as yet made no claim, the first four Applicants’ present status is not that of persons seeking asylum. Rather, they are family members simpliciter. Having prepared the scales in the manner outlined above, our conclusion is that the balance tips in favour of the Applicants provided that they are prepared to set in motion their asylum claims processes in France. The Order we make achieves an accommodation between the two legal regimes in play. It strikes an appropriate balance by preserving the general structure of the CEAS [Common European Asylum System] and the Dublin Regulation principles in particular, while simultaneously ensuring that once a claim by any of the first four Applicants has been made the administration of the CEAS will not be permitted to interfere disproportionately with the Article 8 rights of that Applicant or his family member.

Well done to the legal team:

We are indebted to counsel for their able and succinct arguments. We add with pleasure that the conduct of these proceedings was exemplary

Interested in refugee law? You might like Colin's book, imaginatively called "Refugee Law" and published by Bristol University Press.

Communicating important legal concepts in an approachable way, this is an essential guide for students, lawyers and non-specialists alike.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.