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Clifford Chance secures permission to bring 'X passports' judicial review claim

11 October 2017

Clifford Chance secures permission to bring 'X passports' judicial review claim

Today, Clifford Chance, working alongside barristers from Blackstone Chambers, secured permission from the English Administrative Court to bring a judicial review case on behalf of Christie Elan-Cane, whose campaign, Non-Gendered – Fighting for Legal Recognition, seeks legal recognition for individuals who do not identify as either male or female. The review will challenge the policy of Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO), which requires an applicant for a UK passport to declare their gender as being either male or female, and allows for a passport to be issued only identifying the bearer as either male or female, rather than allowing a non-gender specific alternative ('X’, for unspecified gender) passport to be issued as permitted by the relevant international standards and other countries worldwide.

The Court's decision means that the case will now proceed to a substantive hearing, during which the Court will hear argument that the policy of HMPO is unlawful on the basis that it constitutes a breach of the right to private life under the European Convention on Human Rights, that it is discriminatory and that it is irrational and therefore unlawful as a matter of administrative law.

Christie Elan-Cane, leading Non-Gendered, is calling for the UK to follow in the footsteps of other countries which allow the option of ‘X’, unspecified, gender markings in passports, including Australia and New Zealand, as is permitted by the relevant International Civil Aviation Organization standards for mandatory personal identifiers in passports.

The Clifford Chance team is composed of Narind Singh (Partner), Eraldo d'Atri (Senior Associate), and Anne Collins (Associate) who instructed leading Counsel Kate Gallafent QC and Tom Mountford both of Blackstone Chambers.

Narind Singh, partner leading the Clifford Chance team, comments:

"We are delighted that the Court has granted permission for a full hearing of this significant public interest case on the fundamentally important issue of the right to respect for individuals’ identity, and look forward to working with Christie Elan-Cane as we proceed to a substantive hearing. Access to justice is central to Clifford Chance's responsible business strategy, and the firm is proud to have worked alongside Christie's Non-Gendered campaign for many years as it strives to attain recognition for individuals who do not identify as either male or female, including members of the trans community, intersex people and those who identify as non-gendered. Gender identity is a fundamental part of an individual’s intimate, personal identity and X-passports are a crucial step in the protection of the human rights of this group of individuals, who otherwise face an unacceptable choice between forgoing a passport, and making a false declaration, and using a passport which misrepresents their identity".