Case Study


Refugee & Protection Officer v BA (Nigeria) [2022] NZHC 706 [7 April 2022]

Consideration Of Internal Protection Alternatives

Lucy Tothill, an experienced Refugee Lawyer from Dixon & Co Lawyers, successfully won an appeal against the Crown in the High Court granting a Nigerian Christian convert refugee status in New Zealand.

Key Issues

The three key issues to this case were:

1. The asylum seeker was granted refugee status by the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (the Tribunal) in May 2021.

2. According to the Crown, the Tribunal did not consider the respondents place in their country of nationality where the person might be able to find “internal protection alternatives”.

3. The Crown contended that “it is wrong in law for the Tribunal to have only considered a single Nigerian city – Lagos – when determining whether the respondent had an internal protection alternative.”

The asylum seeker was unsuccessful in gaining refugee status on two occasions and two related judicial review applications

How We Helped

Dixon & Co Lawyers helped with BA Nigerian’s third application in the High Court where the Crown sought to appeal the Tribunal’s decision to grant refugee status to the asylum seeker.

  • EThe Crown’s appeal was unsuccessful resulting in the asylum seeker securing refugee status in New Zealand. The case was dismissed in the Court of Appeal on the basis that “the respondent had a well-founded fear of persecution for a Convention reason (his religion)”, and “if he continued practising his religion in his hometown, he would come to the attention of his family and consequently faced a risk of serious harm or death.
  • E The Tribunal concluded that the requirement to consider the “internal protection alternative” was not necessary for the following reasons: – First, the Respondent was suffering from a disease known as sickle cell. – Second, Nigeria was classified as one of 13 high risk countries having COVID-19: and – Third, that a person suffering from sickle cell disease was at risk of serious harm due to the high number of outbreaks.
Purchase of maori Land - Kelly advising a client

Services We Provided

Dixon & Co Lawyers provided expertise in Refugee and Immigration Law to win this appeal.

Mother and son refugee waiting and hoping for a better future with the help of Refugee & Immigration Legal Services

Refugee and Immigration Law

It is not straightforward to obtain refugee and protected-person status and there are several key criteria that you must fit to receive asylum. Our team are passionate about helping refugees find asylum in New Zealand.

Learn more


This case showed a progression within the common law to allow a narrower test when assessing whether a person who is a refugee can be granted refugee status in New Zealand. In this case, the Crown thought the scope of the Internal Protection Alternative common law test did not consider other cities within the country that could aid as an alternative to gaining refugee status. However, evidence of COVID-19 and its invasive spread throughout Nigeria, together with our client’s health issues, were sufficient to convince the Tribunal that an Internal Protection Alternative was not required.

Tips & Advice

Refugee mother and son seeking refugee status in New Zealand with the help of a refugee and human rights lawyer.

Statutory Obligations When Seeking Refugee Status

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The Internal Protection Alternative is a common law principle which has been applied to cases over time and has been ...
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Internal Protection Alternative

other living alternatives within the country of residence.


the Immigration and Protection Tribunal


the refugee convention under the Immigration Act 2009.

Dixon & Co Lawyers, legal blog author Lucy Tothill
About the author

Lucy Tothill


Lucy grew up in Christchurch and moved to Auckland to complete her Bachelor of Arts (Ancient History) and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at the University of Auckland in 2019. She was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in the Auckland High Court in June 2020.


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