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Case update 23 December 2020

First meeting of the Advisory Group to the Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives

Earlier this afternoon, the Advisory Group to the Legal Defence Fund for Transgender Lives met for the first time. The fund was set up on 22 November, and on 8 December, when the fund already exceeded £100,000, Good Law Project announced that it was setting up an advisory group to help it administer the fund.

We have published the names of the members – and brief biogs. We’ve also published the terms of reference of the Advisory Group. Because Good Law Project raised the money in its own name and is accountable to those who donated to it, it needs to have a veto right over spending but, of course, it is highly unlikely to exercise that right and the advisory group could publish the exercise of that veto. 

We also agreed on two spending commitments. 

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The first is that a legal team including David Lock QC, Jason Pobjoy, and Isabel Buchanan (acting either pro bono or at heavily discounted rates) will seek to ‘intervene’ in the Tavistock’s appeal against the Bell judgment. An intervention is where other parties with an interest ask to be heard in a case – alongside the main parties. 

The intervention will be on behalf of a small group of NGOs who we will name in due course. The intention is to make points that were made inadequately or not at all before the Divisional Court around, in particular, (i) the need to hear what teenagers say about their own lives (ii) the role of parental consent and (iii) wider implications (e.g. for access to abortion) of the decision. The Advisory Group believes the decision was wrong and there is a reasonable basis for thinking it can be overturned. 

The second commitment arises from the fact that, presently, the Tavistock does not accept that parents can consent to their children having puberty blockers. And the decision in the Bell case means that children cannot consent either. This leads to the situation where the consent of the Court – itself a huge barrier in practice – needs to be sought even in circumstances where a specialist doctor, parent, and child all agree that a treatment is in the child’s best interests.

The Tavistock will be invited – or sought to be compelled – to review its position in relation to whether to accept parental consent. In practice success on this action would remove, in many or most cases, the practical barrier to treatment posed by the Bell decision.

In line with Good Law Project’s transparency principles, we will publish the documents in this litigation promptly wherever we are able to.

The Advisory Group is open to proposals about possible avenues of strategic litigation to protect or advance the rights of the trans (including non-binary) community. You can send ideas to: with the subject header “FAO Trans Advisory Group”.

We bring cases to advance the public interest. We are not usually able to respond to individual legal questions or take on matters of interest only to an individual. If you require legal assistance, we suggest that you contact Citizens AdviceLaw Centres Network, or Law Works.

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