Case details

The Advocate General for Scotland (Appellant) v Romein (Respondent) (Scotland)

Case ID: UKSC 2016/0165

Case summary


Whether section 4C of the British National Act 1981 is of potential application to all children born before 1983 of daughters of men who emigrated from the UK to countries outside Ireland and the Commonwealth.


The Respondent was born in the United States and is a US citizen by birth. Her mother was born in South Africa and was a British citizen by descent, and her mother’s father was born in Wales. During the course of her pregnancy, the Respondent’s mother contacted the British consulate in Johannesburg to secure British citizenship for the Respondent. She claims that she was informed by officials that registration would serve no purpose, as, at the time, nationality could only be passed through the male line, and so the birth was not registered with the British Consulate. Section 4C of the British Nationality Act 1981 now allows some persons born of British national mothers before 1983, who were unable to inherit nationality at the time of their birth, to register with the Secretary of State as British citizens. On 2nd May 2013, the Respondent applied for British citizenship under section 4C. By a decision of 20th June 2013, the Secretary of State for the Home Department refused that application, since the Respondent would not have become a citizen under section 5 of the British Nationality Act 1948 where her birth had not been registered at a consulate as required.

Judgment appealed

[2016] CSIH 24



The Advocate General for Scotland


Shelley Elizabeth Romein



Lady Hale, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Hodge, Lady Black

Hearing start date

06 Dec 2017

Hearing finish date

06 Dec 2017