McGill & Co have been in the Supreme Court acting for the Respondent to the Government’s appeal in the case of The Advocate General for Scotland v Romein.

This is a case that has been ongoing since 2013 and concerns the interpretation of the British Nationality Act 1981, s 4C.  

Ms Romein’s mother was a British citizen by descent.  Ms Romein was born overseas.  At the time of her birth, had it been her father who was British by descent as opposed to her mother, it would have been possible for Ms Romein’s birth to be registered at a British consulate within a year of her birth, allowing Ms Romein to acquire British citizenship (often referred to as citizenship by ‘double descent’).  Due to historical gender discrimination in British nationality law, this was not possible where the claim to citizenship arose through the female line.  It was only possible for citizenship to be transmitted in this way through the male line.  Consular registration for Ms Romein was therefore not permitted, and Ms Romein was unable to acquire British citizenship.

Subsequently, our nationality laws have been amended to correct for historical gender discrimination.  Ms Romein’s claim was however rejected by the Secretary of State on the basis that her birth had not been registered at a consulate within a year of her birth.  The Supreme Court will determine how s 4C of the 1981 Act is to be interpreted, and whether someone in Ms Romein’s position will be able to have a claim for citizenship considered by the Secretary of State, notwithstanding the fact that her birth was not registered at a consulate.

The case was heard by Lady Hale, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Hodge, Lady Black.

This article was originally posted here.