Judicial Review – JR159: School starting age

Judicial Review – JR159: School starting age

Legislation governing the compulsory school starting age for children in Northern Ireland is inflexible and unjustified, the High Court has ruled. A judge also held that a prematurely born four-year-old boy's human rights could be breached if he is forced to begin classes in September. Mr Justice Scoffield urged the Department of Education to try to reach an agreement with the child's family before the new term. Northern Ireland's starting age for pupils is the currently lowest in Europe. Urgent judicial review proceedings were launched after a request for the boy to be allowed to commence school in September 2022 was refused. Lawyers for the boy argued that it was an arbitrary and unfair situation where the start date would be put off by 12 months if he had been born just a day later. They claimed the decision is incompatible with rights to private and family life under Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights. The Department's legal representatives told the court that while legislative reform is...
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NI first judgment on puberty blockers

NI first judgment on puberty blockers

After the controversial judgments of Bell v Tavistock and A & B in England and Wales the Belfast Trust sought permission from the High Court to provide hormone blockers to a 16 year old. Our Ciaran Moynagh acted for the young person in these proceedings. The Court held there was no need for requested permission and young person was to receive treatment. Full judgment here ...
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International Academy of Family Lawyers

International Academy of Family Lawyers

Ciaran Moynagh has been admitted as a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. The association is a worldwide association of practising lawyers who are recognised by their peers as the most experienced and skilled family law specialists in their respective countries. IAFL was formed in 1986 as the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers to improve the practice of law and administration of justice in the area of divorce and family law throughout the world. https://www.iafl.com/fellows/ciaran-moynagh/28244 ...
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Gender Recognition Act – requirement of ‘disorder’ incompatible with human rights.

Gender Recognition Act – requirement of ‘disorder’ incompatible with human rights.

A High Court Judge held that the obligation to prove disorder via medical reports in order to secure official recognition of preferred gender is incompatible with human rights. The woman, who began her transition more than 20 years ago, took legal action in a bid to obtain a new birth certificate. But in order to obtain the necessary Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) she must provide evidence of a specific disorder - gender dysphoria. Her lawyers that amounted to unlawful stigmatisation. Ruling on the challenge, Mr Justice Scoffield found that the specific requirement to prove she was suffering from a disorder was unjustified. He described it as “an unnecessary affront to the dignity of a person applying for gender recognition through the legal process set out for that purpose by Parliament”. Judicial review proceedings brought against the Government Equalities Office (GEA) focused on the terms of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Granted anonymity, the woman claimed in an affidavit that the legal requirement caused her to...
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Transfer Test: Further Challenge

Transfer Test: Further Challenge

An eleven-year-old child and her parents have issued a legal challenge against the current arrangements which will see Transfer Tests beginning in less than three weeks, in the face of new, tighter, government pandemic restrictions. The child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has significant underlying health conditions and is being forced to accept the lack of adequate safeguards if she hopes to advance her education at grammar school. As it stands, AQE (the private test provider), with the support of Minister Peter Weir, intend to require all those sitting the Transfer Test to mix at test centres on specified dates. This will involve, in many cases, hundreds of children from across Northern Ireland gathering at a location. The family believe this is dangerous. Current rules dictate that test centres should take all “reasonable” steps to assure the safety of children, however in the view of our client this has not happened and cannot be guaranteed. Obvious alternatives (like tests being carried...
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Judicial Review: Requirements for Gender Recognition Cert.

Judicial Review: Requirements for Gender Recognition Cert.

We are instructed by a trans women seeking to secure a gender recognition certificate without the need of obtaining medical evidence and a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The matter was heard in December for two days and we expect judgment in early 2021. Ciaran Moynagh, partner said: “She simply wishes to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate to have her reality reflected on her birth certificate. “She takes issue with the need for a medical report confirming she has gender dysphoria, given that the World Health Organisation no longer believes it is a disorder and the fact there is no medical expertise in Northern Ireland that can assist with the application process.” Mr Moynagh added: “The lack of treatment, support and medical expertise in Northern Ireland that assists trans people in obtaining a GRC is a long-standing issue that the Government has acknowledged but taken no steps to resolve. ...
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Shortlisted: National Diversity Awards

Shortlisted: National Diversity Awards

A record breaking 64,000 people nominated this year alone and the results are finally in for the National Diversity Awards, with an astonishing 126 nominees being recognised for their various achievements nationwide.  Community organisations and role models from across the UK will head to  Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on 26th February to witness the countries 2020 winners being crowned the best of UK diversity.  Amongst those being honoured are charities, campaigners and activists, all of whom work tirelessly to combat injustice and discrimination in very different ways. Our Ciaran Moynagh, Partner is nominated for Positive Role Model for LGBT Community. He said "It really is a great honour to be shortlisted for such a prestigious award and it is a true testament to the work we do in Phoenix Law and the core values we have as a staff team. This shortlist is a recognition for everyone in the office and im humbled to lead on this issue." The full shortlist can be viewed here ...
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Landmark Challenge: Humanist Marriage recognition in England & Wales.

Landmark Challenge: Humanist Marriage recognition in England & Wales.

Next week the High Court in London will hear a legal challenge brought by six couples looking to have legal recognition of humanist weddings. Ciaran Moynagh, Partner noted, "The time for asking to be accommodated is over. The courts are now the only appropriate and realistic method of moving this issue on. Following a successful case in Northern Ireland, momentum is on our side, and I believe couples who look forward to a legally recognised humanist ceremony should take great heart and hope from that." The legal challenge is being supported by Humanists UK. Andrew Copson, Chief Executive commented, "Couples who have humanist weddings see that day as the epitome of their love and commitment to each other, and all they want is the same legal recognition for that as is given to every religious person in our country." Full Story Here ...
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School Transfer Test proceeds to full hearing.

School Transfer Test proceeds to full hearing.

The High Court of Justice granted leave in the judicial review case challenging the delay of the transfer test in Northern Ireland this year. After the hearing our clients mother said, "By the Court granting leave acknowledges all the concerns parents have been raising for weeks now.  I have felt helpless and my daughter’s emotional wellbeing is suffering. I am encouraged and relieved by todays positive outcome as I know that this test will have significant consequence on my daughters future and life potential. Like every other parent, I simply want what is best for my daughter and this test occurring in November certainly is not that." Ciaran Moynagh commented, "It is certainly in the public interest to have the action or inaction of all transfer test organisers scrutinised. We must remember at the heart of this are many 10 – 11-year-old children that are extremely anxious about what is expected of them in these uncertain times. The Court has indicated that the...
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