Is Mr Pham a Vietnamese National? Citizenship Deprivation and Foreign Nationality Law in Municipal Courts

Seminar/Forum

Is Mr Pham a Vietnamese National? Citizenship Deprivation and Foreign Nationality Law in Municipal Courts

Statelessness Seminar Series – Dr Rayner Thwaites

In Pham (2015), the United Kingdom Supreme Court decided that Mr Pham was, as a matter of Vietnamese law, a Vietnamese national. This conclusion was in conflict with the position of the Vietnamese authorities, who did not accept that he was. This divergence as to the content of municipal Vietnamese nationality law – between the institutions of the state of nationality and those of a foreign state – raises in dramatic form questions concerning the treatment of foreign nationality law in municipal courts.

Different conclusions were reached not only by the British and Vietnamese authorities, but by the relevant adjudicative bodies in the United Kingdom. The British litigation saw decisions that Mr Pham was not a Vietnamese national, and decisions that he was. These different conclusions arose from differences of interpretive approach between the relevant courts and tribunals. The interpretive differences were in turn informed by different readings of relevant international law materials, centrally guidance on statelessness provided by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

This seminar will analyse the different interpretive approaches employed in the Pham litigation, grounded in British public law and applied to both Vietnamese and international law. The context for this analysis is twofold: the common law tradition with regard to the treatment of foreign nationality law and the relevant international law debates on statelessness.

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