The Court of Appeal has ruled that a judge had been entitled to quash a refusal by the Passport Office to accept a mother’s applications for British passports for her children.
The case involved the Secretary of State for the Home Department v GA.
The mother and children were British citizens who lived in “Country X,” as it was referred to in court. The mother applied for British passports for the children.
Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) refused to accept the applications because it required them to be supported by evidence of the consent of a person with parental responsibility under the law of Country X.
It considered that person to be the children’s father alone.
However, the father had been arrested after he had engaged in serious domestic abuse of the mother. It was therefore unsafe or impossible for the mother to obtain his consent.
An Administrative Court judge quashed HMPO’s decision. He held that the Secretary of State could properly decide that questions of parental responsibility arising in connection with passport applications should be decided in accordance with the Hague Convention on Parental Responsibility and Child Protection 1996.
Article 16 provided that attribution of parental responsibility was governed by the law of the state of a child’s habitual residence.
Article 22 provided that application of the applicable law provisions of the Convention could only be refused if such application would be manifestly contrary to public policy, taking into account the child’s best interests.
The judge held that HMPO’s assessment that the mother lacked authority to apply for British passports was not rationally sustainable on the evidence.
The Court of Appeal has upheld the judge’s decision.
It held that his conclusions regarding the need to obtain the father’s consent were ones he had been comfortably entitled to reach. No real attempt had been made to show that they were wrong and there was no basis upon which the Court of Appeal court could interfere with them.
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Mother challenges refusal to grant her children British passports
Secretary of State for the Home Department v GA
Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
23 July 2021
 EWCA Civ 1131
 7 WLUK 373
Peter Jackson LJ;
Elisabeth Laing LJ