06 October 2021

Supreme Court ruling on Children’s Rights Bill in Scotland

The UK Supreme Court has today (6 October 2021) handed down a judgement that four provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill are outside the devolved legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.

The judgement follows a challenge by the UK Government who referred the Bill to the Supreme Court over concerns that certain provisions fall outside the scope of the 1998 Scotland Act that underpins the Scottish Government’s devolved powers.

In the judgement, all five justices, led by Supreme Court president Lord Reed, unanimously found in favour of the UK Government.

The legislation will now be referred back to the Scottish Parliament for ‘further consideration’.

CELCIS has joined 65 organisations who have written a letter to the Scottish Government urging Ministers to address the Court’s concerns quickly.

Claire Burns, Director (Acting) of CELCIS, said:

“Today’s judgement by the UK Supreme Court means that progress in incorporating children's rights will be delayed which is disappointing but this shouldn't detract from Scotland’s determination to uphold, protect and fulfil children’s rights. CELCIS stands ready to offer our support to ensure the Implementation Programme is able to continue at pace, whilst technical issues around the Bill are resolved.”

Incorporation of the UNCRC ensures that children’s rights are respected and protected in the law and that public authorities are legally required to respect and protect children’s rights in the work that they do.

The Bill was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament in March 2021.


Read the Supreme Court ruling 

Read Together’s blog post   

Read the letter to Scottish Government