Employment and Immigration Law Update - Landmark case regarding Home Office fees to register a child as British

23 January 2020

On 19 December 2019 the High Court handed down its judgment in the case of Project for
the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) & Others v Secretary of State for the
Home Department [2019]. This could be a landmark case as the High Court ruled that the
current Home Office fee to register a child as a British citizen is unlawful.

The current fee to register a child as British is £1,015. The High Court found that when setting the fee the Secretary of State had failed to take into account the best interests of children and thus the fee is unlawful.

Before the British Nationality Act 1981 (the Act), anyone born in the UK was automatically British. The Act ended this automatic right. Now, only those born in the UK with a British or settled parent will automatically qualify as a British citizen. Those not automatically British may register as British under the Act and are required to pay a fee for the application.

The judgment requires the Home Secretary to reconsider the fee, placing children’s best interests at the forefront and as the primary consideration.

PRCBC argued that the Secretary of State had no power to set the fee at above the cost to the Secretary of State of registering a child’s British citizenship, or at a level that was unaffordable to many children entitled to that citizenship. The High Court applied an earlier Court of Appeal case and found it was bound to reject that argument. However, the Judge agreed the point merited further consideration and granted PRCBC the certificate required for them to seek a ‘leapfrog’ appeal directly to the Supreme Court on this point.

The matter has now been raised in Parliament, but the Home Office has yet to set out how it plans to respond to the judgment.

The amount of the fee will be of particular interest to EU national parents who have children who were born in the UK before the EU national parent was granted indefinite leave to remain (e.g. under the settled status scheme), as those children would be eligible to register as British citizens and potentially hold dual nationality after Brexit.

This article is from the January 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For further information please contact Clare Hedges or another member of Birketts' Immigration Law Team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at January 2020.