France – Bordeaux Administrative Court of Appeal, 22 December 2017, No. 17BX03212

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
22-12-2017
Citation:
Bordeaux Administrative Court of Appeal, 22 December 2017, Applicant v Toulouse Administrative Tribunal, No. 17BX03212
Court Name:
Bordeaux Administrative Court of Appeal (‘Cour administrative d’appel de Bordeaux’)
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
France - Code of Entry and Residence of Foreigners and of the Right of Asylum ('CESEDA’) – Articles L. 741-1
L. 744-1 & R. 741-2
France - Code of Administrative Justice (‘CJA’) – Articles L. 761-1 & R. 632-1
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Headnote: 

The three-month time limit for take back requests, as prescribed by Article 21(1) of the Dublin III Regulation, will apply as soon as the competent authorities of the relevant Member State have been informed, with certainty, of the fact that international protection has been requested. Where certain responsibilities for the registration of applications have been delegated to a competent legal entity, the authorities will be deemed to have been so informed once the legal entity in question has made a written record of the applicant’s intention to claim asylum. 

Facts: 

The Applicant is an Algerian national and states that he entered France on 3 October 2016 in order to claim asylum. The Haute-Garonne Prefecture consulted the Visabio records on 15 November 2016 and found that the Applicant had been granted a visa by the Spanish authorities, enabling him to enter EU territory. On 13 January 2017, the Prefecture requested that the Spanish authorities take back the Applicant. The Spanish authorities accepted this request and the Prefecture ruled on 4 August 2017 that the Applicant should be transferred to Spain.

The Applicant’s appeal against the decision was dismissed by the Toulouse Administrative Tribunal on 29 August 2017. He then appealed against this decision on the basis that it violated Articles 20(2) and 21(1) of the Dublin III Regulation. On 15 December 2017, a statement of collective intervention was submitted by ADDE, GISTI and SAF, who took over the Applicant’s claim.

Decision & Reasoning: 
On the admissibility of the collective intervention
The Court held that the collective intervention was admissible within the scope of Article R. 632-1 of the Code of Administrative Justice (‘CJA’). It first established that a collective intervention would be admissible provided that the intervention of at least one of the parties was admissible. Next, it reasoned that the intervention by ADDE was admissible. Under Article 2 of its constitution, ADDE works to support claims by foreigners in order to guarantee that their rights are recognised and respected. The appeal concerned the Applicant’s rights as an asylum seeker and ADDE was therefore entitled to intervene. 
 
On the legality of the decision
The Court held that the French authorities were responsible for evaluating the Applicant’s claim. As a result, the Toulouse Administrative Tribunal had wrongly dismissed his appeal. First, reading the Dublin III Regulation in conjunction with the decision of the European Court of Justice (‘ECJ’) in case C-670/16, the Court acknowledged that under Article 21(1), a take charge request must be made within three months of an application for international protection being lodged. As stressed in the ECJ decision, this is necessary to guarantee the rapid processing of applications.
 
Next, the Court acknowledged that under Article 20(2), an application for international protection will be deemed to have been lodged once the competent authorities of the Member State concerned have received either a document written by a public authority and attesting the claim or, alternatively, the key elements of information contained in such a document. As stressed in the ECJ decision, the authorities need only be informed, with certainty, of the fact that international protection has been requested. It is not necessary for the written document prepared to have a precisely defined form or for it to include additional information relevant to the examination procedures, nor is it necessary for a personal interview to have been organised. 
 
The Court then considered the application of Article 20(2) to situations where the authorities have delegated certain responsibilities for registering applications to a legal entity, in accordance with Articles L. 744-1 and R. 741-2 of the Code of Entry and Residence of Foreigners and of the Right of Asylum ('CESEDA’). It found that, in such cases, the application will be deemed to have been lodged once the legal entity in question has made a written record of the applicant’s intention to claim asylum, and not once the application has been registered at the ‘single desk’ (‘guichet unique des demandeurs d’asile’). On the strength of this interpretation, the Court found that the three-month time limit under Article 21(1) would also start running from this moment. 
 
Applying this reasoning to the facts of the Applicant’s appeal, the Court found that the application had been lodged on 3 October 2016, when he had presented himself at the local branch of the French Red Cross, filled out a form expressing his intention to apply for asylum and received an interview appointment. Meanwhile, the Prefecture had lodged its take charge request on 13 January 2017, after the three-month time limit had lapsed. Accordingly, under Article 20(3) of the Dublin III Regulation, the French authorities remained responsible for processing the application.
 
Outcome: 

Appeal granted. The Haut-Garonne Prefecture would be obliged to process the Applicant’s claim.

Observations/Comments: 

The case demonstrates a broad interpretation of Article 20(2) of the Dublin III Regulation. The Bordeaux Administrative Court of Appeal has provided a commentary (in French) of the decision on its website – http://bordeaux.cour-administrative-appel.fr/A-savoir/Communiques/Qu-est....

This case summary was written by Georgia Kandunias, GDL student at BPP University. 

Case Law Cited: 

Toulouse Administrative Tribunal, 29 August 2017, Applicant v Haute-Garonne Prefecture, No. 1703771