Irish High Court rejects woman’s application for back payments for her own childhood child benefit 

In a judgment released on 27 June, the High Court held that Irish law does not permit recovery of child benefit by the child to whom the benefit relates to, and that rejecting the application does not contravene rights conferred under EU law. Ms Drutu, the applicant, moved from Romania to Ireland as a child, and despite a number of applications, neither of her parents successfully applied for her child benefit. After the continued rejections, Ms Drutu applied for her own child benefit, but was unsuccessful as she was not the ‘qualified person’ who was entitled to the benefit.  

Ms Drutu appealed the refusal of her application for her own child benefit to the courts on the grounds that a decision of the Court of Justice of the EU recognised that a child of a migrant worker was entitled to invoke a right to family benefits. Ms Drutu pointed to the financial difficulties suffered by her family as a result of the lack of child benefit provided, and noted she had to partake in part time employment to assist her family, which negatively impacted her studies.  

Ms Justice Marguerite Bolger in the High Court dismissed the application, noting that the EU perceives the granting of family benefits to be primarily a matter of national law. Additionally, the judge held that the matter did not concern the applicant’s background as a child of migrant workers, nor did it breach her rights under EU law, stating: 

“This is nothing to do with her status as the child of migrant workers and the decision does not discriminate on grounds of her parents’ exercise of their right of free movement and is not contrary to EU law. The basis for that refusal of her application for arrears of child benefit is created and permitted by Irish law and does not contravene the applicant’s EU rights” 

In upholding the decision to refuse a grant of child benefit as Ms Drutu was not a ‘qualified person’ to the claim under Irish law, the court did not comment on the legality of the decisions in relation to her parents, as this was not at issue in the case.  

To read the decision in Elena Drutu v The Minister for Social Protection, Ireland and The Attorney General, click here.  



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