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A high-profile Supreme Court appeal concerning the fees charged to children applying to register as British citizens. The leading case on the rules of statutory interpretation and related constitutional law principles. Nicholas Chapman, led by Sir James Eadie QC, represented the Secretary of State.
The Appellants, led by the campaigning group Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens, argued that the fees of over £1,000 as fixed in secondary legislation were unaffordable to many children and consequently rendered nugatory the underlying statutory right to register as a British citizen as conferred by the British Nationality Act 1981, and were therefore ultra vires. The Appellants also contended that the rule identified in R v Secretary of State for Social Security, Ex p Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants  1 WLR (“JCWI”) operated as a bar to secondary legislation cutting down statutory rights conferred in an earlier statute. Finally, the Appellants argued that the special rule of statutory interpretation explained by the Supreme Court in R (UNISON) v Lord Chancellor  AC 869 applies in the case of all important statutory rights, including the right to British citizenship.
The Supreme Court unanimously rejected these arguments. Lord Hodge gave the leading judgment. Lady Arden gave a concurring judgment.
In doing so, the Court:
The judgment can be found here.
The press summary can be found here.