British Citizenship - registration of children

R (on the application of Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department

The proceedings concerned the rights and best interests of children in the context of the acquisition of British citizenship by registration.

Children born in the UK who had a parent who was either a British citizen, or who had rights of settlement, acquired British citizenship status automatically. Children’s acquisition of citizenship by registration might be achieved by pursuing one of two avenues, the first of which required the fulfilment of certain objective conditions, the completion of an application form and the payment of a fee. The second avenue depended on the completion of an application form, paying the concomitant fee, and the favourable exercise of discretion of the Secretary of State. The British Nationality Act 1981 (BNA 1981) described those seeking registration pursuant to the first avenue as exercising an ‘entitlement’.

The registration fee was mandatory and inflexible. Currently, children who were entitled to be registered under BNA 1981 had to pay a fee of £1,012. For a substantial number of children, that fee was unaffordable. The defendant Secretary of State contended that only £372 of that fee was attributed to the administrative cost of processing the application; the remainder effectively cross-subsidised other functions in connection with immigration and nationality. Since 6 April 2007, subordinate legislation made under s 42 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 (AI(TCE)A 2004) had set fees at a level which included that additional element.

The claimants brought a judicial review claim, contending that the imposition of the additional element at a level which was unaffordable was unlawful, and challenging the secondary legislation which had set the fee.

The claim succeeded on breach of the s 55 duty

Source: LexisNexis

The judgement is available here

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