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High Court gives permission to challenge Army over age regulations

High Court says legal action can continue against Army in challenge to rules governing minimum service period for those enlisting as minors

10 December 2014

The High Court has granted permission for a judicial review of the Ministry of Defence over the Army Terms of Service Regulations 2007 which compel soldiers who enlist as minors to a longer minimum service period than those who enlist as adults.

Under the Regulations, minors enlisting in the army are subject to a minimum service period up to two years longer than that applying to adult joiners.

Leigh Day are representing research and advocacy charity Child Soldiers International in the legal challenge which asserts that the Regulations are discriminatory in nature and are unlawful under the European Equal Treatment Directive.

Having considered preliminary written arguments a High Court Judge has granted the judicial review permission to advance to a full hearing which will take place over 2 days, most likely next Spring.

The Judge also agreed that the claim raised issues of general public importance and granted Child Soldiers International a Protective Costs Order (PCO) to enable it to run the challenge without the risk of having to pay unaffordable legal costs run up by the MOD in defending the claim.

The decision in this case comes on the day on which the House of Lords are once again debating the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill and the government’s attempts to restrict access to judicial review and Protective Costs Orders for charities and NGOs.

“We are delighted that the High Court has granted permission to proceed in this case, recognising the importance of the matters raised. Every year hundreds of young recruits are adversely affected by this unjust legislation and we hope that our legal challenge will ensure they are finally treated fairly by the MoD”, said Rachel Taylor, spokesperson for Child Soldiers International.

Jamie Beagent, partner at Leigh Day, said: “We are pleased that Court has agreed that this case is of public importance and, in particular, that our client has been granted a Protective Costs Order. It is an important reminder of the public interest in the Courts being able to hear claims such as this – something that the present government are actively trying to undermine out of narrow self-interest.”

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