France – Administrative Court of Appeal of Nantes, 6th Chamber, No. 20NT03785, 15 June 2021

The applicant is from Western Sahara and identifies as a Sahrawi, a territory occupied by Morocco. Having fled to France, he  argued that he should qualify as a stateless person even though his birth certificate indicates that he has Moroccan nationality. He argued that this matter should be referred to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling. 

Case name (in original language)
CAA de NANTES, 6eme chambre, 15/06/2021, 20NT03785
Case status
Case number
Administrative Court of Appeal of Nantes, case no. 20NT03785, 15 June 2021
Date of decision
Court / UN Treaty Body
Administrative Court of Appeal of Nantes
Language(s) the decision is available in
Applicant's country of birth
Applicant's country of residence
Relevant Legislative Provisions

International Law

  • Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, New York, 28 September 1954 – Article 1

Council of Europe

  • European Convention on Human Rights

EU Law

  • Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
  • Treaty on the Functioning of the EU - Article 267
  • Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of June 26, 2013 

The applicant, born in 1978 in Western Sahara fled the country in 2013 to reach France. His refugee application was denied in 2014 by OFPRA (French bureau for the protection of refugees and stateless persons) and one year later by CNDA (National Asylum Court). The prefect of his region rejected his request for a residence permit and made an expulsion order. The applicant challenged this decision at both the Administrative Tribunal and the Administrative Court of Appeal, unsuccessfully.

In 2017, OFPRA denied the applicant status of stateless person. He contested this decision before the Administrative Tribunal, which rejected his claim in 2020. He appealed to the Administrative Court of Appeal.

Decision & Reasoning

The Administrative Court of Appeal confirmed the judgment of the first instance Administrative Tribunal and rejected the applicant’s case.

On the lawfulness of the judgement:

The Court held that the obligation on the domestic judge to explain the reasons for his refusal to refer one applicant’s question to the CJEU only applies to Courts that rule as a last instance. As it is not the case here, the judgment is valid even though the first instance Administrative Tribunal did not answer his conclusions on this matter.

On the conclusions regarding the annulment of the judgment:

The Court considers that the judgment is thoroughly motivated in law and in fact. It considered that the applicant did not provide sufficient evidence that he was a stateless person and that he was belonging to the categories of stateless persons as recognised by Article L. 812-2 of the CESEDA.

The Court rejected the applicant’s arguments based on his involvement in the Gdeim Izik camp since this relates to his application as a refugee and not as a stateless person.

The Court added that while the contested judgment was based  on the birth certificate of the applicant and the fact that he should have applied to Moroccan nationality, it held that it was possible for the applicant to request Spanish nationality because of his father’s nationality. The Court therefore concluded that the applicant should have carried out sufficient actions in front of the Spanish authorities in order to request Spanish nationality before being able to request the status as a stateless person.


The Administrative Court of Appeal denied the applicant the status as a stateless person.

Third party interventions

L'association des Avocats pour la défense des droits des étrangers (ADDE) intervened in favour of the applicant.