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Survivor’s pension rule not objectively justified property interference

Re an application by Brewster for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) [2017] UKSC 8

Related Member(s):
Helen Mountfield QC, Chris Buttler
Related Practice Area(s):
Discrimination and Equality, Human Rights
Court:

On appeal from: [2013] NICA 54

The Supreme Court unanimously held the requirement in the Local Government Pension Scheme (Benefits, Membership and Contributions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 that unmarried co-habiting partners must be nominated in order to be eligible for a survivor’s pension, was interference with the appellant’s right to property under article 1 of Protocol 1 to the ECHR that could not be “objectively justified” for the purposes of art 14. There was no similar nomination requirement for married or civil partner survivors. Where the question of the impact of a particular measure on social and economic matters has not been addressed by the Government Department responsible for a particular policy choice, the imperative for reticence on the part of a court tasked with the duty of reviewing the decision is diminished. In the present case, not only were socio-economic factors not at the forefront of the decision-making process, but the attempt to justify retention of the procedure was characterised by general claims, unsupported by concrete evidence and disassociated from the particular circumstances of the appellant’s case.

Helen Mountfield QC and Chris Buttler were involved in this case.

 

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court website (24 Nov 2016 morning session), (24 Nov 2016 afternoon session).