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New case from President on children’s best interests and the public interest


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Important new determination from President McCloskey on the best interests of children in human rights cases where the statutory considerations apply: Kaur (children’s best interests / public interest interface) [2017] UKUT 00014 (IAC).

The official headnote:

(1) The seventh of the principles in the Zoumbas code does not preclude an outcome whereby the best interests of a child must yield to the public interest.

(2) This approach has not been altered by Part 5A of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

(3) In the proportionality balancing exercise, the best interests of a child must be assessed in isolation from other factors, such as parental misconduct.

(4) The best interests assessment should normally be carried out at the beginning of the balancing exercise.

(5) The “little weight” provisions in Part 5A of the 2002 Act do not entail an absolute, rigid measurement or concept; “little weight” involves a spectrum which, within its self-contained boundaries, will result in the measurement of the quantum of weight considered appropriate in the fact sensitive context of every case.

(6) In every balancing exercise, the scales must be properly prepared by the Judge, followed by all necessary findings and conclusions, buttressed by adequate reasoning.

For those who cannot immediately recall the Seventh Principle of Zoumbas it is:

“A child must not be blamed for matters for which he or she is not responsible, such as the conduct of a parent”.

Although it sounds like one of the precepts of a little known religious sect, “Zoumbas” is, disappointingly, a reference to the Supreme Court decision of Zoumbas v SSHD [2013] UKSC 74.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.