Barrister, 2-3 Hind Court:
Unaccompanied minors subject to UK immigration control can face difficulties on arrival or discovery in the UK in proving when they were born to the various agencies that will need to know. Back home, an accurate date may not have been of significant importance. S/he was born 'at the time of the great drought' (or some other memorable event), or dates and calendars were calculated differently there, or documentary proof was simply not available. The provision of the correct date of birth matters a great deal in this country, however, and providing the wrong one can have serious consequences: loss of benefits, inappropriate detention or placement, or even being sent out of the UK again immediately after arrival. Yet even if a correct date of birth is given, for a variety of reasons this may be disputed, and this in itself can have a negative impact on the minor's sense of identity and self-worth. Accumulating case-law on the subject demonstrates that the age assessment process is by no means straightforward. This article aims to assist any professional with an age-disputed client to tackle this fraught process and ensure that all the benefits due to the young client are secured.
The full version of this article appears in the April 2013 issue of Family Law.