Ireland: Family reunification case provides interpretation for the notion of dependency

Friday, October 4, 2013

The case concerns a couple of Somali origin, one of whose members had been recognized as a refugee in Ireland, which wished to reunite a niece and a nephew who had been their de facto wards since they were orphaned. Their application was refused on the grounds that the nephew and the niece were not dependent on the applicants, who then appealed to the Irish High Court.
The High Court accepts that there was a guardianship relationship between the applicants and their nephew and niece and that it should be regarded as such even if the former had not formally been appointed as the guardians of the latter. The Court acknowledges that the political situation in Somalia would not have allowed for this and attaches much more weight to the relationship of dependency between the applicants and their nephew and niece. The term "ward" used in the Irish provision listing relatives eligible for reunification should be interpreted flexibly enough to include this kind of situations within its scope. The High Court goes on to observe that, in the absence of a definition of the term "dependency" in both Irish legislation and case law and in the Directive on the right to family reunification, this is not confined to economic reliance. For this, the High Court quotes UNHCR notes and handbooks as well as ECRE's information note on Directive 2003/86/EC on family reunification. The concept of dependency also involves social, personal, physical, familial, emotional and cultural bonds between the refugee seeking reunification and the relative who is the subject of the reunification application. Moreover, financial dependency must be assessed flexibly. The decisive factor would not be the size of the contribution as such, but rather its effect in the context of the specific country or residence and personal circumstances of the person receiving the contribution. The Court concludes that, in the particular case, this point was not sufficiently investigated by the Irish authorities, who in a rather arbitrary manner concluded that there was no dependency. Hence, the Court quashes the decision of the Irish authorities and remits its for fresh consideration of the Department of Justice.

Read the full text of the decision here.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.



Dependant (Dependent person)
Family reunification
Family unity (right to)