The Advocate General for Scotland v Romein: SC 8 Feb 2018

Paradoxical Inhertiance of Nationality Rights

Whether transmission of British citizenship through the female line allowed from 1983 was retrospective: ‘With effect from 1 January 1983, the restriction to descent in the male line was abrogated by legislation for those born after that date, and 20 years later in 2003 the legislation was retrospectively amended so as to allow those born before 1983 to acquire citizenship through the female line. However, when Ms Romein, who had been born under the old regime, sought to take advantage of the change in 2013, her application for citizenship was rejected on the ground that she was unable to satisfy the statutory condition of registration within a year. The reason why she was unable to do so was that although the law was now deemed at all material times to have allowed claims to citizenship by descent through the female line, the staff of British consulates, acting entirely properly under the law as it actually was, would have refused to register her birth because she was ineligible. A result so paradoxical clearly calls for scrutiny.’
Held: The decision of the Court of session was affirmed.
‘ . . the solution to the paradox is more straightforward . . Because section 4C requires one to assume that section 5 of the 1948 Act had always provided for citizenship by descent in the female line, it is not possible to apply the registration condition in section 5(1)(b) of the 1948 Act to those claiming on that basis, because its application would make nonsense of that assumption. The past is done, and cannot be undone. For nearly 70 years, British consuls have declined to register the births of those claiming by descent through the female line. Throughout that period any purported registration of a person claiming citizenship only through the female line would have been legally ineffective. Given that we are forbidden by section 4C(3D) to assume contrary to the facts that the birth was in fact registered, the only way in which effect can be given to section 4C(3) is to treat the registration condition in section 5(1)(b) as being inapplicable in cases where citizenship is claimed by descent from a mother.’

Lady Hale, President, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Hodge, Lady Black
[2018] UKSC 6, [2018] AC 585, 2018 GWD 24-308, 2018 SC (UKSC) 122, [2018] WLR(D) 84, [2018] 2 All ER 849, 2018 SLT 790, [2018] 2 WLR 672, [2018] Imm AR 949, [2018] INLR 287, UKSC 2016/0165, UKSC 2018/0177
Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary, SC Summary Video, SC 2017 Dec 06 am Video, SC 2017 Dec 06 pm Video, WLRD, SC, SC Summary, SC Summary Video, SC 07 Oct 19 am Video, SC 07 Oct 19 pm Video, SC 08 Oct 19 am Video, SC 08 Oct 19 pm Video, SC 09 Oct 19 am Video, SC 09 Oct 19 pm Video, SC 17 Jun 19 am Video, SC 17 Jun 19 pm Video
Appeal from (Inner House)Romein v The Advocate General SCS 1-Apr-2016
The petitioner had applied for registration as a British citizen pursuant to section 4C of the British Nationality Act 1981, as amended by the Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. The respondent, the Secretary of State for the Home Department . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Administrative, Immigration, Discrimination

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.604211