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More on Metock

More on Metock

There has been a spate of big cases in the last few days. I’ll deal first with what is probably the most legally significant, ZH (Afghanistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] EWCA Civ 1060.

In ZH the Court of Appeal have confirmed for anyone that did not already know it that Regulation 12(1)(b)(ii) of the 2006 EEA Regulations is unlawful following Metock. Remarkably, a Deputy President of the tribunal, Ms Arfon-Jones, had refused to accept this, but the Home Office conceded at the Court of Appeal that the appellant had been right. However, the Home Office attempted to prop up the tottering decision by arguing that the marriage at the heart of the case was a sham marriage and the couple should not therefore benefit from it. The Court of Appeal gave this new point short shrift and pointed out that the facts found by the tribunal were that there was a genuine relationship between the couple.

Tantalisingly, Lord Justice Aitkens ends his judgment as follows:

For those reasons, I would allow the appeal. I am conscious, however, that serious and difficult issues arise which concern: (i) the interpretation of the word “spouse” and the phrase “marriage of convenience” for the purposes of the 2006 Regulations, (ii) whether it is the person seeking an EEA family permit or the SSHD that has the burden of proving that a marriage is a “marriage of convenience” for the purposes of the 2006 Regulations; and (iii) the nature and application of the “abuse of rights” doctrine for the purposes of the 2004 Directive and, therefore, the 2006 Regulations. The points were fully argued before us. These issues will be raised at the re-hearing before the tribunal. When I prepared a first draft of this judgment I thought it would be possible and right to express some views on all three topics, in the hope of assisting the tribunal, although my views would not, strictly speaking, have been necessary for my decision on this appeal. However, having considered the issues and after discussion with Rix and Wall LJJ, I have decided that it is not sensible to give any views on these topics. On further reflection I think it will be much better that the tribunal should first find the further facts that might be relevant and, if further issues of law arise, they will be considered on appeal if necessary.

So, the wait continues…

Free Movement

The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.

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