Today, the Court of Appeal has handed down a landmark judgment on Article 39’s judicial review. The unanimous judgment  has found that Government acted unlawfully in introducing Statutory Instrument 445 (SI 445) earlier this year. The victory represents a win for children’s rights across England.

Our Head of Policy, Ben Twomey reported on the decision.

The decision signifies the end of legal proceedings against the Government over SI 445. The case of Article 39 v Secretary of State for Education has been followed closely by NYAS and partners across the sector who formed the #ScrapSI445 campaign group.

We are delighted by the judgment handed down by the Court of Appeal today, a judgment that restores the rights of care-experience children and young people in England. In his chief ruling, Lord Justice Baker stated that “it was manifestly in the interests of the vulnerable children who would be most affected by the proposed amendments that those agencies and organisations representing the rights and interests of children in care should be consulted.”

Since SI 445 was published in April, NYAS and the #ScrapSI445 campaign group have called on the Government to withdraw the law which put care-experienced children and young people at risk during the pandemic.

The law by-passed the ordinary 21 day waiting period for secondary legislation and affected over 78,000 children in care and entering care in England.

In August, the High Court ruled on Article39’s Judicial Review challenge. The judgment found that while SI 445 was lawfully introduced, the Government was wrong to reduce hard-won safeguards to the language of ‘bureaucratic provisions.’ Justice Lieven also went as far as to say that “in anything less than a national crisis of such urgency, I would have been minded to find that the consultation was not lawful if the Commissioner was not consulted.”

While SI 445 has now elapsed, in part due to the momentum built by NYAS and #ScrapSI445 campaign group, this legal victory is a testament to the determination of the sector, and everybody who stood together to defend the rights of care-experienced children and young people in a time of national crisis.

NYAS will never stop campaigning on behalf of care-experienced children and young people.

A timeline of our campaign history on the issue can be seen here.

Rita Waters, NYAS Chief Executive, said “This is an important day for children’s rights in England. NYAS is proud to have campaigned so strongly against SI 445 since its introduction, and we congratulate Article 39 on the outcome of their case at the Court of Appeal. This judgment will go a long way to making children’s rights are protected in times of crisis, when they are needed more than ever. We will never stop campaigning for the rights of the child.”

Ben Twomey, NYAS Head of Policy and Research, said “This is a victory for the #ScrapSI445 campaign group and the thousands of people who supported our efforts by writing to their MPs, signing petitions and donating to the legal case. Most importantly it is a victory for children’s rights, hard won on behalf of the tens of thousands of children in care and entering care who were given no voice in the government’s response to the pandemic.”