Campaigners have been given the all clear by a judge to challenge the Home Office in court over fees charged to register a child as a British citizen.
The Project for Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) can now apply for a judicial review over the legality of the £1,012 charge.
The group says they do not question the legality of a fee being charged, just the size of it compared with the administration cost of £372 for processing a registration.
But despite clearing the PRCBC to press ahead with a judicial review, Mrs Justice Yip, sitting in the High Court, said the charity was facing an ‘uphill struggle’.
The PRCBC has accused the Home Office of profiteering with its charges to register some of the estimated 120,000 children who grew up in the UK, but are not citizens.
Amanda Weston QC, for PRCBC, told the High Court children who could not pay the fee as it stands would face precarious futures.
She added that this could have an adverse impact on all aspects of their lives, from education to travel.
PRCBC director Solange Valdez-Symonds, said after the hearing that the judge’s ruling had been an ‘emotional moment.’
She added: “The futures of these children are slowly and silently being chipped away. No child should be denied their right to British citizenship because of a profit-making fee they cannot afford.”
William Hansen, for the responsible Home Office minister, told the court that the PRCBC bid repeated arguments from a previous case that had failed, so should not be allowed.
The PRCBC was originally refused permission to proceed, but it tried again after a judicial review bid was allowed on appeal in another case.
It concerned a child whose family could not afford to pay the fee, but had eventually been funded by a well-wisher.
Mrs Justice Yip agreed that the two cases were concerned with overlapping issues and granted PRCBC permission to proceed at the second attempt.
The judicial review
- This is a hearing in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
- It is conducted before the Administrative Court, a division of the High Court’s Queen’s Bench division.
- Judicial reviews are intended as a means of challenging the way a decision is made, not whether it is right or wrong.
- Its main concern is whether or not the correct procedures have been followed and the court will not impose what it believes to be the ‘right’ decision.