The High Court has ruled that the Home Office’s £1,012 fee to register a child as a British citizen is unlawful.
In a landmark judgment, Mr Justice Jay found a “mass of evidence” that the size of the fee prevents many children from registering citizenship, leaving them feeling “alienated, excluded, ‘second-best’, insecure and not fully assimilated into the culture and social fabric of the UK.”
The court made clear that where a child has a right to British citizenship it will generally be in the child’s best interests to be registered as British – something the Home Office had denied in evidence to the court.
The administrative processing cost of a child’s registration claim is just £372, meaning the Home Office makes an estimated £640 profit from each child application it receives.
The government will now have to reconsider the fee and ensure that children’s best interests are taken fully into account in doing so.
While the court ruled the Home Office failure to consider children’s best interests when setting the fee rendered the fee unlawful, it rejected a separate argument that there was no law allowing the government to set the fee above administrative cost.
The court described that argument as “powerful and sustained” but decided it could not uphold the argument due to an earlier ruling of the Court of Appeal. However, the court gave permission for the claimants to apply directly to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal on this point.
The decision is the culmination of 7 years of passionate work by the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens which brought the challenge. They were represented on a pro bono basis by Mishcon de Reya.
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