UK: R on the application of ZAT and others v. Secretary of State for the Home Department

Thursday, January 21, 2016

This case was a judicial review test case before the Upper Tribunal (UT) concerning seven Syrian applicants. Four were living in the unofficial camp near Calais known as ‘the Jungle’, infamous for its conditions of squalor, as recently criticised by the Lille Administrative Tribunal. Three of them were unaccompanied minors and the other was the adult dependent brother of one of them who suffered from mental health problems. The other applicants were their siblings, who had refugee status in the UK. The applicants challenged the refusal of the UK to admit the first four applicants to be reunited with their family members pending the determination of their asylum claims, which was a disproportionate interference with their Article 8 ECHR right to family life.

The UK government considered it owed no legal duty to the applicants as they had not lodged an asylum application in France, and no ‘take charge’ request had been made, as envisaged by the Dublin III Regulation. The Applicants argued that in their circumstances the operation of the Dublin Regulation was inadequate to provide the protection that the first four applicants needed and that Article 8 ECHR (and Article 7 EUCFR) gave rise to a positive obligation on the UK government to admit them, relying in particular on Tuquablo Tekle v. The Netherlands andMayeka and Mitunga v. Belgium.

The UT considered a number of factors in its Article 8 proportionality assessment including the applicants’ ages, psychological damage, pre-existing family life, their urgent need for family reunification and the avoidance of fear, anxiety and uncertainty they would suffer if they did not achieve swift entry to the UK. It found that the first four applicants were likely subjects of ‘take charge’ requests under the Dublin Regulation due to the provisions on family unity, but that this would be ‘wholly inadequate’ in their circumstances due to administrative difficulties in accessing the asylum procedure in France which would lead to a delay of at least one year. Although strict adherence to the Dublin Regulation formed a major part of the overarching public interest of the UK in controlling its borders, overall the refusal to admit the first four applicants to the UK would disproportionately interfere with the applicants’ right to respect for family life under Article 8 ECHR. 

It thus ordered the UK government to admit the applicants into the territory with a view to determining their asylum applications, conditional on them first sending the French authorities a letter claiming asylum. In this way, it sought to reconcile the requirements of the Dublin Regulation principles whilst ensuring that the administration of the CEAS did not disproportionately interfere with the applicants’ Article 8 rights.

The applicants have now been reunited in the UK. The UT has granted permission for the Secretary of State to appeal to the Court of Appeal. 


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.



Best interest of the child
Dublin Transfer
Family member
Family reunification
Family unity (right to)
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Material reception conditions
Reception conditions
Relevant Documentation
Relevant Facts
Unaccompanied minor