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Clifford Chance to appeal to the Supreme Court the refusal to find UK passport gender policy unlawful

12 November 2020

Clifford Chance to appeal to the Supreme Court the refusal to find UK passport gender policy unlawful

International law firm Clifford Chance has secured permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court to challenge the UK Government's policy to refuse to issue non-gendered passports.

Clifford Chance, on behalf of Christie Elan-Cane, launched judicial review proceedings in 2017 challenging the lawfulness of UK Government's passport policy. The policy requires that either an "M" or "F" gender marker appear on every UK passport and does not allow for a non-gender marker to appear on the document. Non-gender specific passports ("X passports") are permitted by the relevant international standards and are available in a number of countries worldwide.

In 2018, the High Court held that the Government's policy was not unlawful. This ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeal in early 2020. However, the Courts found that the right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights does include a right to respect for a person's non-gendered identity, marking the first time the UK Courts have recognised that Article 8 guarantees a right to respect for those who identify outside the binary concepts of male and female.

Clifford Chance, working with Blackstone Chambers (all acting pro bono), have now been granted permission to appeal the Court of Appeal decision in the UK Supreme Court.

Jemima Roe, Associate at Clifford Chance says: "This case raises important questions regarding the right to respect for individuals' identity, specifically for those who identify as neither or not exclusively male or female. Access to X passports is crucial for the protection of the human rights of this demographic, who are otherwise forced to use a passport which misrepresents their identity. Clifford Chance is proud to be working with Christie and Blackstone Chambers to argue this case before the Supreme Court."

The Clifford Chance team is composed of Narind Singh (Partner), Eraldo d'Atri (Senior Associate), Anne Collins (Senior Associate) and Jemima Roe (Associate), who instructed Kate Gallafent QC, Tom Mountford and Gayatri Sarathy (Blackstone Chambers), all acting pro bono.

For more information on Clifford Chance's commitment to human rights and our ethos as a responsible business, please check out our Responsible Business Report 2020.