Court of Appeal judgement: ‘a child is foremost a child before he or she is a refugee’

The Court of Appeal have restated the principle that ‘a child is foremost a child before he or she is a refugee.’

This was part of a July 2017 judgement from Lord Justice Underhill  and Lord Justice Gross. The guidance aims to ensure that children and other vulnerable persons have an effective right of access to Immigration and Asylum Tribunals, and a voice in the proceedings.

The judgement concluded that the two lower tribunals (First-Tier and Upper) should not have refused permission to appeal. They focused too much on the credibility of a vulnerable child witness’ oral testimony, and not enough on objective evidence.

Guidance outlined the importance of establishing ground rules that should be adopted through case management at appeal hearings to ensure procedural fairness.

The guidance covers core issues such as:

  1. The assessment of credibility from impaired or vulnerable witnesses and their participation in tribunal hearings
  2. The need to ensure procedural fairness
  3. The role of the common law in supplementing rules
  4. The tribunal’s power to appoint litigation friends
  5. The urgent need to define the role and authority given to litigation friends.

Read the full judgement, or a summary article from Garden Court Chambers.