The judgment relies on earlier Constitutional Court judgments that have established that stateless persons who lost their nationality involuntarily and demonstrated that they do not have the right to permanent legal residence elsewhere should get residence rights in Belgium on an equal footing with refugees, and that the necessary national legislation is lacking to give effect to such rights. The applicant has a criminal record and was denied residence rights on that basis, but the Court ruled that criminal convictions are irrelevant for his residence rights, and ordered authorities to regularise his residence until new legislation comes to force that regulates the stateless persons' right to residence.
The Court of Cassation clarified that the fact that judges should refuse to apply the existing regulations because these violate the principle of equal treatment, does not have as a consequence that stateless persons automatically fall under the category of aliens authorised to stay on the territory by law, or are automatically equated to a recognised refugee. They still need to be granted leave to remain.
The Court of Cassation held that judges are obliged to remedy every legislative gap that has been found unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. By refusing to grant a right of residence to a recognised stateless person without investigating whether he had involuntarily lost his nationality, and if he had demonstrated that he could not obtain a durable residence permit in another state with which he has ties, the Court of Appeal of Liège violated articles 10 and 11 of the Constitution.
The refusal to grant family allowance to a recognised stateless person because of the lack of a residence permit amounts to discrimination between stateless persons and refugees. Such difference of treatment arises from a legislative gap that had been identified in an earlier judgement and not filled yet by the legislator.
The absence of any legislative provision granting persons recognised as stateless in Belgium a residence right, comparable to that enjoyed by recognised refugees, is discriminatory.