RAF’s refusal to pay compensation breached surviving partner’s human rights


Re: Langford v Secretary of State for Defence [2019] EWCA Civ 1271

The Court of Appeal today unanimously held that an exclusionary rule in the armed services pension scheme led to unlawful discrimination against the surviving partner of a deceased officer. The Appellant was the surviving partner of Air Commodore Christopher Green. They had been in a committed relationship for 15 years when he suddenly and unexpectedly died in service. Relying on the exclusionary rule, the RAF refused to pay compensation because the Appellant had not formally dissolved a moribund marriage.

The Court of Appeal held that the application of the exclusionary rule unjustifiably discriminated against the Appellant, in breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The judgment is of wider significance because the rule is widely replicated across public sector pension and compensation schemes.

Chris Buttler and Raj Desai were involved in this case.