Carson and Others v The United Kingdom: ECHR 16 Mar 2010

(Grand Chamber) The court ruled admissible claims against the United Kingdom by 13 persons entitled to British State pensions for violation of article 14 of the Convention in combination with article 1 of the First Protocol. All the claimants had earned pensions by working in Britain, but had emigrated to South Africa, Australia or Canada on retirement. They were all British nationals, though one remained an Australian national. Each claimed discrimination in that their pensions were not linked to United Kingdom inflation, in contrast to the position of pensioners who had remained resident within the United Kingdom. They claimed that the rule violated article 14 taken in conjunction with article 1 of Protocol 1 to the Convention. The Grand Chamber concluded ‘that place of residence constitutes an aspect of personal status for the purposes of article 14’ but, in the event, it proceeded to reject the applications.
‘In order for an issue to arise under article 14 there must be a difference in the treatment of persons in analogous, or relevantly similar, situations. Such a difference of treatment is discriminatory if it has no objective and reasonable justification; in other words, if it does not pursue a legitimate aim or if there is not a reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought to be realised.’
and: ‘as with all complaints of alleged discrimination in a welfare or pensions system, it is concerned with the compatibility with article 14 of the system, not with the individual facts or circumstances of the particular applicants or of others who are or might be affected by the legislation. Much is made in the applicants’ submissions and in those of the third-party intervener of the extreme financial hardship which may result from the policy . . However, the court is not in a position to make an assessment of the effects, if any, on the many thousands in the same position as the applicants and nor should it try to do so. Any welfare system, to be workable, may have to use broad categorisations to distinguish between different groups in need . . the court’s role is to determine the question of principle, namely whether the legislation as such unlawfully discriminates between persons who are in an analogous situation.’


[2010] ECHR 338, 42184/05, (2010) 51 EHRR 13, 29 BHRC 22




European Convention on Human Rights 14


Human Rights


See AlsoCarson and Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 4-Nov-2008
(Grand Chamber) Pensioners who had moved abroad complained that they had been excluded from the index-linked uprating of pensions given to pensioners living in England.
Held: This was not an infringement of their human rights. Differences in . .
See AlsoCarson and Others v United Kingdom ECHR 2-Sep-2009
Press Release . .
See AlsoCarson v United Kingdom ECHR 2-Sep-2009
Press Release – Grand Chamber Hearing broadcast . .

Cited by:

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CitedHumphreys v Revenue and Customs SC 16-May-2012
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CitedA and B, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Health SC 14-Jun-2017
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CitedCrowter and Others, Regina (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Health And Social Care Admn 23-Sep-2021
Foetus has no Established Human Rights
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CitedDA and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions SC 15-May-2019
Several lone parents challenged the benefits cap, saying that it was discriminatory.
Held: (Hale, Kerr LL dissenting) The parents’ appeals failed. The legislation had a clear impact on lone parents and their children. The intention was to . .
CitedThe Department for Communities v Cox CANI 3-Aug-2021
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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Discrimination

Leading Case

Updated: 15 April 2022; Ref: scu.420210