Johnson, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department: SC 19 Oct 2016

The court was asked: ‘Is it compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights to deny British citizenship to the child of a British father and a non-British mother simply because they were not married to one another at the time of his birth or at any time thereafter? If the parents had been married to one another, their child would have been a British citizen. If the mother had been British and the father non-British, their child would have been a British citizen. If the child had been born after 1 July 2006 he would have been a British citizen. The child is not responsible for the marital status of his parents or the date of his birth, yet it is he who suffers the consequences.’
Held: The appeal was allowed. The liability to deportation by reason of the accident of his birth outside wedlock was unlawfully discriminatory.
The right to a nationality is not as such a Convention right but denial of citizenship when it has
important effects on a person’s identity falls within the ambit of article 8 and so triggers the application
of the prohibition of discrimination in article 14. Birth outside wedlock is a ‘status’ for the
purpose of article 14 and falls within the class of ‘suspect’ grounds where very weighty reasons are
required to justify discrimination. In Mr Johnson’s case, what needed to be justified was his
current liability to deportation when he would not be so liable but for the accident of birth outside
wedlock for which he was not responsible. No justification had been suggested for this and it cannot
therefore be said that his claim that deportation would breach his Convention rights was clearly unfounded.
Lady Hale, Deputy President, Lord Kerr, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes, Lord Toulson
[2016] UKSC 56, UKSC 2016/0042, [2016] WLR(D) 531, [2017] AC 365, [2017] INLR 235, [2016] 3 WLR 1267, [2017] Imm AR 306, 41 BHRC 711
Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary, WLRD
England and Wales
Citing:
CitedGenovese v Malta ECHR 11-Oct-2011
The applicant was illegitimate, born to a British mother and a Maltese father. Paternity had been established scientifically and in judicial proceedings. The father refused to recognise his son on the birth certificate, and the applicant’s mother . .
At AdmnJohnson, Regina (on The Application of) v The Secretary of State for The Home Department Admn 17-Jul-2014
The court was asked whether the Claimant’s proposed deportation to Jamaica, following his conviction and imprisonment for a very serious criminal offence, involves a violation of article 14 in conjunction with article 8 of the European Convention on . .
CitedJohnson, Regina (on The Application of) v The Secretary of State for The Home Department CA 26-Jan-2016
The appellant was Jamaican by birth, but had lived here with his British father since the age of four. Had his parents been married, he would have had British nationality. As he grew to an adult he was convicted on several serious matters. He now . .
At CAJohnson, Regina (on The Application of) v The Secretary of State for The Home Department CA 26-Jan-2016
The appellant was Jamaican by birth, but had lived here with his British father since the age of four. Had his parents been married, he would have had British nationality. As he grew to an adult he was convicted on several serious matters. He now . .
CitedK v Netherlands ECHR 1-Jul-1985
Discrimination; Immigration; Nationality; Right to respect for private and family life . .
CitedMichalak v London Borough of Wandsworth CA 6-Mar-2002
The appellant had occupied for a long time a room in a house let by the authority. After the death of the tenant, the appellant sought, but was refused, a statutory tenancy. He claimed to be a member of the tenant’s family, and that the list of . .
CitedKarassev v Finland ECHR 12-Jan-1999
Admissibility. The arbitrary denial of citizenship may violate the right to respect for private life under Article 8. The Convention did not guarantee the right to acquire a particular nationality. Nevertheless, it did ‘not exclude that an arbitrary . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 10 February 2021; Ref: scu.570161