R (JS) v SSHD  UKUT 64 (IAC)
Litigation friends for children in immigration tribunal proceedings The Upper Tribunal provided mainly age-based guidance on whether a child applicant in immigration proceedings requires a litigation friend, and on the role of the litigation friend.
This summary is from the judgment itself:
(1) Although all cases are fact-specific, the following general guidance represents the approach the Upper Tribunal is likely to adopt in deciding whether a child applicant in immigration judicial review proceedings requires a litigation friend to conduct proceedings on the child's behalf:
- (a) As a general matter, applicants aged 16 or 17 years, without any attendant vulnerability or special educational need or other characteristic denoting difficulty, will be presumed to have capacity and so be able to conduct proceedings in their own right. They will generally not require a litigation friend. This is the position even if they are not legally represented.
- (b) The appointment of litigation friends for applicants between the ages of 12 years and 15 years inclusive (i.e. 12 and over but younger than 16) needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis and the circumstances which should be considered, but which are not exhaustive, are:
- (i) whether the applicant is legally represented;
- (ii) whether there is an assisting parent;
- (iii) whether there is a local authority involved; and
- (iv) whether the applicant has any type of vulnerability.
- (c) If an applicant in this age group is legally represented, the Tribunal will expect the representative specifically to address in writing the issue of whether, in the representative's view, a litigation friend is necessary, having regard to capacity and the position of any parent.
- (d) Applicants under the age of 12 will normally require a litigation friend.
(2) The above approach is one that, as a general matter, should also be followed in appeal proceedings, whether in the First-tier Tribunal or the Upper Tribunal.
(3) In deciding who is to be a litigation friend in a particular case, the guiding principles, derived from the Civil Procedure Rules, are:
- (a) can he or she fairly and competently conduct proceedings on behalf of the child?
- (b) does he or she have an interest adverse to that of the child?
(4) For practical purposes, only one person should normally be nominated as a litigation friend. A parent of a child will often be the obvious choice but not the only option.