High Court reporters
The High Court has quashed a decision of the Minister for Justice and Equality to revoke a Georgian man's residency permit because of an alleged marriage of convenience.
The man married a Lithuanian woman he first met on a dating app while he was living in Georgia.
The marriage took place in Ireland in March 2017, six months after he arrived unlawfully in the State and less than a month before he applied for international protection. His wife had been living here since 2006.
Just over a month after their marriage, he applied for a residency permit on the basis of his marriage to an EU citizen, which was granted in December 2017 for a five-year period.
Around this time, the marriage became strained, according to the couple. She moved home to her mother for a short while before agreeing to attempt to work on their differences through in early 2018.
By October 2018, it was claimed, she had permanently left the accommodation they rented together.
In February 2019, the man had lost his passport and wrote to the Minister for Justice saying he had ordered a new one.
This prompted a request from the Minister for details to show he was still resident in Ireland with his spouse.
The couple wrote back saying she had recently moved out because they were "having lots of fights and after trying to save the relationship we decided to move on and live as a separated couple …we decided to divorce".
In August 2019, the Minister for Justice revoked his residency permit stating, among other reasons, he had engaged in a marriage of convenience in order to obtain the residency permit. A review of the decision was sought, but the original decision was affirmed.
The man brought a High Court challenge claiming the revocation decision was based on a personal credibility assessment in which his account, and that of his wife, were disbelieved. It was argued that constitutional justice and fairness required that an oral hearing should have been held as part of the decision-making process.
The Minister opposed the application and said there was no requirement for an oral hearing.
Ms Justice Siobhan Phelan, who noted no request for an oral hearing was made prior to that decision being made, said an oral process was required to ensure fairness in this case.
The decision-making process which led to the decision to revoke "was unfair and does not vindicate" his rights to constitutional justice.
This was in view of the nature of the personal credibility findings made and by reason of the absence of an oral stage to the process, whether it was in the form of an interview or oral hearing, she said.