The High Court in Lockwood & Anor. v the Minister for Justice and Equality & Anor. IEHC 256 has refused an application by an American national seeking to restrain his removal from Ireland where the Department of Justice and Equality (the “DJE”) refused him leave to land in the State.
Mr Lockwood arrived in Ireland on 1 April 2019 from Washington DC and spoke to an immigration officer upon arrival. Mr Lockwood told the immigration officer that he had come to Ireland for a holiday but on further questioning it transpired that he would be taking up a volunteer position as a coach with Baseball Ireland during his stay.
A search was then conducted of Mr Lockwood’s mobile phone under s.7 of the Immigration Act 2004 and messages were found which were interpreted as meaning that Mr Lockwood intended to enter Ireland for paid work. The immigration officer refused to grant Mr Lockwood leave to land in the State on two grounds, first that he intended to take up employment for which he required an employment permit which he had not obtained and secondly, he did not give the real reason for entering the State when first asked.
Mr Lockwood was detained in Terminal 2 of Dublin Airport with the intention of putting him on a flight back to Washington DC scheduled for 8 April 2019.
On 4 April, Mr Lockwood’s solicitor applied to the DJE for revocation or withdrawal of the refusal to grant leave to land and later made a renewed application for leave to land but the DJE upheld the immigration officer’s decision. Mr Lockwood then applied for interlocutory relief preventing his removal from the State.
The Court referred to the test set down by the Supreme Court in Okunade v Minister for Justice and Equality 3 IR 152 and the factors to be considered when determining whether to grant an injunction restraining an applicant’s removal from the State.
The Court considered on the one hand that no irreparable harm had occurred to Mr Lockwood while it was of the view that considerable harm could be done to the “orderly operation of the State’s borders” if the High Court were to create a leave to land system where people who were denied entry could apply to have that decision nullified.
Although not dealing with the merits of the case, the Court noted that “virtually nothing” was put forward to displace the fact that the refusal of leave to land was within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Justice and Equality and that on Mr Lockwood’s own account he sought entry into Ireland on grounds other than volunteered by Mr Lockwood to the immigration officer on arrival.
In relation to Mr Lockwood’s renewed application for leave to land, the Court stated that it was “simply not an appropriate procedure” to issue a letter with the corrected information thereby seeking to do away with the previous application which had been made on a deceptive basis. The Court noted that any “good faith re-application would have to be made from outside the State.”
The Court refused to grant the relief sought, stating that the balance of convenience and justice was “massively against” granting an injunction.
Note for employers
It is important when personnel are entering Ireland that they are entirely truthful when giving their reasons for entry to immigration officers or members of An Gárda Síochána and that all of their documentation supports their position. All necessary measures, including obtaining a visa and/or an employment permit where applicable, should be completed before seeking to enter the State.
The DJE has reported that there were 3,746 refusals to grant leave to land in Ireland in 2017. According to reports, those who are refused entry into the State are often detained in Garda stations and prisons. There are however plans to open a dedicated immigration facility and detention centre at Dublin Airport in the coming months.