Delays in reforming asylum appeal system are costing millions in legal challenges

Posted On: 12 June 2012

Delays in introducing legislation reforming appeals in the asylum process contributed to costs borne by the tax payer of over €3 million in 2011 says the Irish Refugee Council (IRC).  The Annual Report of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal 2011, published today shows that 73% of the Tribunal’s non-pay expenditure went on legal costs associated with judicial review proceedings.  This is separate from the fees paid to the part-time Tribunal Members who hear the appeals cases.

Sue Conlan, Chief Executive of the IRC, says: “A key reason for the need for recourse to the Courts is the lack of an effective remedy within an asylum system in which decisions are overwhelmingly negative.  The inclusion of an effective independent appeal in the new Immigration Residence and Protection Bill would substantially reduce the need for expensive and lengthy Judicial Review- proceedings.”    

In 2011, 1,106 cases were appealed to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.  Of the 872 cases given an oral hearing, 93% received a negative decision, while 98% of those appellants who did not get the opportunity of an oral hearing were refused.  From these, 234 applications for Judicial Review against the negative decisions were filed with the High Court.

 “A robust, truly independent appeals body in which justice was not only done but seen to be done would mean that aggrieved applicants would reduce the need to turn to the courts. The appeals system proposed in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 bears little difference to the current Tribunal and fails to introduce the checks and balances needed to create an effective remedy,” says Sue Conlan.

According to the IRC, the elements of an independent appeals system include independently appointed tribunal members; public hearings; clear, detailed and published procedural rules governing the preparation for and conduct of appeal hearings and the publication of decisions.



Further information

Sharon Waters                  085 8585 510



  •  The Refugee Appeals Tribunal Annual Report 2011 is available at$File/2011%20Annual%20Report.doc
  •  Proposals for reform of the asylum system have been underway for over 10 years.   The most recent version, the IRP Bill 2010, has been set aside and the Minister for Justice has stated that a revised bill will be introduced to the Oireachtas at an early date.  The main reforms proposed for the area of protection are the introduction of a single protection procedure and a revised tribunal which would hear appeals against decisions to refuse asylum and subsidiary protection.