We use strategic litigation to bring about significant changes in the law, practice or public awareness in order to protect children’s rights.

We take carefully-selected cases to court or contributing to legal arguments through interventions or witness statements, drawing on our expertise and frontline evidence.

Below are recent examples of our strategic litigation:

C, T, M and U, R v London Borough of Southwark [2016] EWCA Civ 707)

CCLC intervened in this case in order to bring deeper consideration of children’s best interests in a judgment from the Court of Appeal on the level of support provided to destitute families who cannot access mainstream support due to their immigration status. The judgment held that ‘a level of support considered adequate simply to avoid destitution in the case of a failed asylum-seeker is unlikely to be sufficient to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child in need and by extension the essential needs of the parent on whom the child depends for care. Ultimately what matters is whether the assessment when completed adequately recognises the needs of the particular child’.

R (on the application of Beaurish Tigere) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills [2015] UKSC 57

Coram Children’s Legal Centre provided a witness statement in this successful case on access to higher education for young people with time-limited forms of leave to remain, drawing on our experience through the Migrant Children’s Project advice line, training provision and policy work. When it was heard in the High Court in July 2014, CCLC’s evidence was cited favourably, with Mr Justice Hayden commenting the ‘the force of this analysis is irresistible’. Just for Kids Law acted as an intervener in the case and CCLC provided a witness statement for their intervention. The Supreme Court found that the requirement for young people to have ‘settled status’ (indefinite leave to remain) was discriminatory.

R (Public Law Project) v Secretary of State for Justice [2014] EWHC 2365 (Admin)

CCLC provided two witness statements to the successful challenge brought by the Public Law Project (PLP) against Government proposals to introduce a “residence test” (preventing those who could not prove 12 months lawful residence in the UK from accessing legal aid) for civil legal aid. PLP was represented by Bindmans who ‘put [CCLC’s] evidence front and centre in the case’ and argued that ‘the judgment is an endorsement of what Cor[a]m Children’s Legal Centre stands for.’ This challenge prevented the policy coming in as planned on 4 August 2014.

Home Office v VS [2015] EWCA Civ1142

In this case the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling that the Home Office acted unlawfully by detaining a child refugee from Iran. The Home Office wrongly treated the child, known as VS, as an adult and detained him for 21 days with the view to removing him from the UK to Italy for his asylum claim to be dealt with there. The Home Office does not have lawful power to remove a child refugee from the UK to another member-state of the EU under the Dublin II Regulations. The judgment provided important clarification around the proper construction of the Home Office’s policy on detaining children whose age may be disputed.

SM & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 1144 (Admin)

CCLC intervened in this case, which found that the Home Office policy on discretionary leave to remain, which was in force at the time the decisions in question were made, was unlawful as it failed to consider the welfare and best interests of the child before deciding the period of time for which leave to remain should be granted. The High Court recognised that successive grants of short periods of leave to remain can leave children in limbo and may, therefore, be contrary to their welfare.

HC (A Child), R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Anor [2013] EWHC 982 (Admin)

CCLC intervened in this case, which challenged the position under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and its Codes of Practice of treating 17-year-olds as adults rather than children, denying them the right to contact their parents when arrested or to have an appropriate adult present when questioned by the police. The failure to treat 17-year-olds as children was held to be inconsistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Application no. 57373/ 08 by P. and S. v Poland, European Court of Human Rights

CCLC intervened in this case, which concerned a 14 year old girl (P) who became pregnant as a result of rape, and subsequently attempted to access an abortion.  In powerful condemnation of the treatment of both the teenager and her mother, the European Court of Human Rights found that the applicants had experienced multiple violations of their human rights under the European Convention (ECHR) and that a child victim of rape in Poland should have been provided unhindered access to abortion. Although abortion is legal in Poland for victims of sexual violence, the teenager and her mother were repeatedly denied information and services, harassed by medical staff, journalists and members of the public and criminalised.

HH (Appellant) v Deputy Prosecutor of the Italian Republic, Genoa (Respondent); PH (Appellant) v Deputy Prosecutor of the Italian Republic, Genoa (Respondent) ; F-K (FC) (Appellant) v Polish Judicial Authority (Respondent) [2012] UKSC 25

CCLC intervened in five appeals, heard together by the Supreme Court in March 2012, concerning the extradition of parents to face criminal trials and/or to complete sentences abroad, the consequences of which would be the enforced separation of the children of those families from their primary carers and possible placement in institutional care. Thirteen children aged between one and 17 were affected by the proceedings. The judgment built on the landmark judgment in ZH (Tanzania) and placed the consideration of children’s rights on a firmer domestic legal footing. It established that children’s rights are an important public interest as well as individual rights, with Lady Hale’s judgment including the following mention of CCLC: 

As the Coram Children’s Legal Centre point out, although the child has a right to her family life and to all that goes with it, there is also a strong public interest in ensuring that children are properly brought up.