State opposes Chinese man’s challenge over refusal to renew driving licence
Posted on 30th October 2019 at 20:52
Restaurant delivery driver says RSA exceeds legislative authority by changing policy
A High Court judge will give his decision later on a challenge by a Chinese man to a refusal to renew his Irish driving licence because he does not have a visa.
The man, who came here in 1999 on a two-year student visa and remained on afterwards working as a restaurant delivery driver, was refused a renewal of his 10-year licence last year because he did not meet what he says are new Road Safety Authority (RSA) requirements proving normal residency.
He claims the RSA exceeded its legislative authority by changing its policy to require that an applicant establish their right to residency.
He says all he needed when he first applied for a provisional licence in 2007 was a utility bill. Now the RSA says he must show he is validly resident here which means he has to show he has a visa.
He says there is no legislative basis, either in national or EU law, for such a requirement. His case is against the RSA, its licensing arm the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS), the Minister for Transport and the State.
The defendants dispute his claims and say the normal residency requirement had evolved since he first got his licence, which was granted under the old local authority licensing system.
They say it is a requirement that an applicant show a right to be in Ireland. In legal submissions on behalf of the State on Wednesday, Frank Callanan SC said the fact the man had a licence previously did not give him the right to have that renewed.
The Minister for Transport is entitled to lay down regulations in relation to what documents an applicant should provide when applying for a licence or a renewal, he said. Counsel also submitted the man is not entitled to claim normal residency as though he was an EU citizen.
Earlier, the court was told the defendants were not in favour of the court making a preliminary reference on the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU.
On Tuesday, Mr Justice Garrett Simons had raised the issue of a possible reference to Europe over whether the regulations were designed to also apply to third country non-EU/EEA nationals.
On Wednesday, Mr Callanan said the issue of a reference is a matter for the court but his side was resisting a reference on grounds which, crudely put, mean the EU has no competence to prescribe how member states treat applications for driving licences.
The judge, who earlier said he would be giving a reserved decision on the case, adjourned it to December to allow the parties amend their pleadings.
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