Thanks to Free Movement for circulating a judgement that is likely to have important consequences on the way UKBA’s interpret its statutory obligation to safeguard children.

In a judgment handed down on 26 October HH Judge Anthony Thornton QC has given guidance on the scope of the UKBA’s duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the UK in carrying out their functions. The judgement follows the guidance of the Supreme Court in the landmark case of ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 4. The case is R (on the application of Tinizaray) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWHC 1850 (Admin).

The judgement notices the paucity of information on which UKBA had relied in making its initial decision and clarifies that the guidance of the Supreme Court requires the UKBA to be proactive in filling the information gaps whereas the applicants hasn’t provided enough. The judge enlists the information needed to the UKBA to ‘form a balance view’:

 The decision maker needed to have detailed information about Angeles’s life in England over the entire 9 years of her life including detailed information of where she had lived and was now living, her relationship with her mother and grandmother, her entire educational history, her social network and her aptitudes and future predictions for her further all-round development if she remained in England for the remainder of her childhood. This information needed to be compared with what her life would be like if she moved to Ecuador. That would require detailed information from Zaira and Vicenta as to how they had lived and maintained themselves in England and as to their and Angeles’s life-style, including where and how they would live and maintain themselves, if they returned to Ecuador. Detailed information about the relevant schools and school system that Angeles would attend in Ecuador would also be needed.

As pointed out on a post on ‘Free Movement’, this is more than most immigration lawyers could have hoped for, but ‘ the judgment must be right, though’, and while the lenght of the list and the duty to be proactive in case of missing information is likely to put a significant administrative burden on UKBA, this is certainly a welcome development for the campaigners for children’s rights in the UK.