• High Court rules claim for judicial review of “Catch-22” regulations is admissible
• Regulations challenged on grounds of age discrimination, require youngest recruits to serve longest

Child Soldiers International today received notification that the High Court has granted permission for its judicial review claim against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to proceed. Child Soldiers International is challenging Army terms of service regulations which it claims are unfair and discriminatory, as they require recruits who enlist as minors to serve for up to two years longer than adults.

The High Court stated that the issues raised were “of general public importance” and the case should proceed, despite opposition from the MoD. The judicial review hearing is expected to take place in spring 2015.

“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.

Notes for Editors

For more information or to speak to a spokesperson from Leigh Day solicitors, please contact: David Standard, Head of Media Relations at Leigh Day: [email protected], Tel: 01949 850246, Mob: 07540 332717.

To arrange an interview with a spokesperson from Child Soldiers International, please contact Rachel Taylor on Tel: 0207 367 4112.

1. Child Soldiers International is an international human rights research and advocacy organisation seeking to end the military recruitment and the use in hostilities, in any capacity, of any person under the age of 18. www.child-soldiers.org.
2. The legislation being challenged is the Army Terms of Service Regulations 2007, as amended. It has been strongly criticised by parliamentary bodies including the Armed Forces Bill Select Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights for many years. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has also called for this legislation to be amended. However, this is the first time the legislation has been challenged in the courts.
3. Although minors have a right to be discharged before their 18th birthday, after this point the so-called “Catch-22” clause commits them to serve until they are at least 22 years old, regardless of their age when they joined. This means the youngest recruits have to serve for longest - 16-year-old recruits have a total minimum service period of six years, while 17-year-olds must serve for five. In contrast, adults can be discharged after just four years’ service. Lawyers acting for the campaign group claim this constitutes unlawful age discrimination in employment conditions, and violates the Equal Treatment Directive 2000/78/EC.
4. See the previous press release “Catch-22: Campaigners launch legal battle with MoD over recruitment of minors” (8 October 2014) for further details on the case and its background.