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Court of Appeal gives judgment in important case on the scope of the Zambrano principle

DATE: 23 Apr 2015

The Court of Appeal has delivered judgment in FZ (China) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, a case raising an important point about the scope of the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-34/09 Zambrano v. Office National de l’Emploi [2012] QB 265. The issue raised by FZ was whether the Zambrano principle was engaged by a voluntary decision of a Union citizen to follow her third country national spouse to China on his deportation and take their Union citizen child with her. Such a decision would deny the child the benefits of her Union citizenship but was a matter of choice on the part of the mother. None of the previous case-law on the Zambrano principle had dealt with this matter directly. The case arose in the context of the deportation of a Chinese national who had been convicted of serious criminal offences of people trafficking for sexual exploitation. 

The Court of Appeal (Longmore, Gloster and Sales LJJ) dismissed the appeal. It held that the reason for the child’s departure was the free choice exercised by her mother. It was not a case where an act of a Member State forced the child to depart and thereby lose the benefits of Union citizenship. The Zambrano principle was only engaged in cases of true compulsion.

David Blundell acted on behalf of the Secretary of State.