United Kingdom - Passport & Nationality - British Citizenship by Double Descent (UKM CBR pre 1983 PGF)
Legislation was passed in 2002 to address the unfairness that those born before 1 January 1983 to British mothers could not acquire British Nationality. However, elements of gender discrimination still existed. Those who were born to a British mother who was not born in the UK could not take advantage of the various double descent provisions of the earlier law that were available to those born to a British man. A recent Supreme Court Judgement in the UK has made it clear that it is unlawful for the UK Government to impose a requirement from the past on new applicants for citizenship where it was not lawfully possible for that requirement to be met at the time.
That's the theory, anyway. In practical terms (though there are circumstances where these won't apply), this should benefit those in the following situation:
a) born in a foreign country (which includes South Africa from 31 May 1962, the United States and most European countries);
b) born between 1 January 1949 and 31 December 1982 (if you were born in South Africa, the applicable period is 31 May 1962 to 31 December 1982); AND
c) their maternal grandfather (i.e. their mother's father) was born in the UK or Northern Ireland.
The circumstances become more complicated if you or your mother were born out of wedlock (the old nationality law did not allow British nationality to pass down illigitimately, so there is an argument to be made that you could not have been registered had the law been gender equal).
YOUR PATERNAL GRANDFATHER
If your paternal grandfather was also born in the UK, there is an argument that your parents could have registered you in the years before 1983. However, it is our view that the recent Supreme Court judgement WILL apply to those with both grandfathers born in the UK.
The judgement has already attracted some criticism and no doubt the Home Office will look at how they respond to this development. It is possible that this particular route to British nationality could be legislated against. It is therefore our advice that, if you qualify for this route to British nationality, you action this as soon as possible.