One claimant said that as a foreign resident pensioner, she had been excluded from the annual uprating of state retirement pension, and that this was an infringement of her human rights. Another complained at the lower levels of job-seeker’s allowance payable to those under 25.
Held: (Lord Carswell dissented in part.) The claims failed. The general rule is that social security benefits are payable only to inhabitants of the United Kingdom. The benefit was a possession, and since the claimant’s residence in South Africa was a personal characteristic, the different treatment fell to be considered. Her argument came down to the fact that she had paid for the benefit, but ‘National insurance contributions have no exclusive link to retirement pensions, comparable with contributions to a private pension scheme. In fact the link is a rather tenuous one.’ As to the second case, age was a natural part of life, and it was proper to distinguish in benefits between different stages. The Michalak catechism, even in a corrected form, is not always the best approach.
Lord Nicholls said: ‘the essential, question for the court is whether the alleged discrimination, that is, the difference in treatment of which complaint is made, can withstand scrutiny. Sometimes the answer to that question will be plain. There may be such an obvious, relevant difference between the claimant and those with whom he seeks to compare himself that their situations cannot be regarded as analogous. Sometimes, where the position is not so clear, a different approach is called for. Then the court’s scrutiny may best be directed at considering whether the differentiation has a legitimate aim and whether the means chosen to achieve the aim is appropriate and not disproportionate in its adverse impact.’
Lord Hoffmann pointed out that the question whether two situations are comparable will often overlap with the question whether the distinction is objectively justifiable: ‘If an ‘analogous situation’ . . means that the two cases are not relevantly different (no two cases will ever be exactly the same) then a relevant difference may be the justification for the difference in treatment . . [T]his division of the reasoning into two stages is artificial. People don’t think that way. There is a single question: is there enough of a relevant difference between X and Y to justify different treatment? . . [T]he invocation of the ‘rational and fair-minded person’ (who is, of course, the judge) suggests that the decision as to whether the differences are sufficient to justify a difference in treatment will always be a matter for the judge.’
Lord Hoffmann (with whom Lord Nicholls, Lord Rodger and Lord Carswell agreed), answered the argument that that the payment of jobseekers’ allowances at a lower rate to those under 25 years of age was unjustified, because there was no substantial difference between those just over and just under that age: ‘Mr Gill emphasised that the twenty-fifth birthday was a very arbitrary line. There could be no relevant difference between a person the day before and the day after his or her birthday. That is true, but a line must be drawn somewhere. All that is necessary is that it should reflect a difference between the substantial majority of the people on either side of the line. If one wants to analyse the question pedantically, a person one day under 25 is in an analogous, indeed virtually identical, situation to a person aged 25 but there is an objective justification for such discrimination, namely the need for legal certainty and a workable rule.’
Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Lord Carswell
 UKHL 37, Times 27-May-2005,  2 WLR 1369,  UKHRR 1185,  4 All ER 545,  1 AC 173,  HRLR 23, 18 BHRC 677
Bailii, House of Lords
Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 113(1), Social Security Benefit (Persons Abroad) Regulations 1975 5, European Convention on Human Rights 814
England and Wales
Cited – Michalak v London Borough of Wandsworth CA 6-Mar-2002
The appellant had occupied for a long time a room in a house let by the authority. After the death of the tenant, the appellant sought, but was refused, a statutory tenancy. He claimed to be a member of the tenant’s family, and that the list of . .
Appeal from – Carson and Reynolds v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CA 17-Jun-2003
The claimant Reynolds challenged the differential treatment by age of jobseeker’s allowance. Carson complained that as a foreign resident pensioner, her benefits had not been uprated. The questions in each case were whether the benefit affected a . .
At first instance – Regina (Annette Carson) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Admn 22-May-2002
The claimant received a UK state pension. She lived in South Africa, and challenged the exclusion of foreign resident pensioners from the annual uprating of pension benefits. She asserted that the state pension, or its uprating, were pecuniary . .
Cited – Muller v Austria ECHR 1975
Article 1 does not guarantee a right to a pension of any particular amount, but that the right safeguarded by Article 1 consists, at most, ‘in being entitled as a beneficiary of the social insurance scheme to any payments made by the fund.’ A claim . .
Cited – Koua Poirrez v France ECHR 2005
The weakness of the analogy between many state contributory schemes and a private pension scheme is a reason to enlarge rather than restrict the scope of 1P1, treating it as applicable to all social security benefits whether contributory or . .
Cited – Gaygusuz v Austria ECHR 16-Sep-1996
The applicant was a Turkish national resident in Austria. While working there he had paid unemployment insurance contributions. At a stage when he was unemployed he applied for an advance on his pension in the form of emergency assistance. That was . .
Cited – Jankovic v Croatia ECHR 2000
Although a claim to a social security benefit is a possession (thereby attracting article 14) it does not entitle one to anything in particular. . .
Cited – Kjeldsen, Busk, Madsen and Peddersen v Denmark ECHR 7-Dec-1976
The claimants challenged the provision of compulsory sex education in state primary schools.
Held: The parents’ philosophical and religious objections to sex education in state schools was rejected on the ground that they could send their . .
Cited – Massachusetts Board of Retirement v Murgia 1976
(United States of America) It can be necessary to distinguish between those grounds of discrimination which prima facie appear to offend our notions of the respect due to the individual and those which merely require some rational justification. . .
Cited – Van Der Mussele v Belgium ECHR 23-Nov-1983
There is discrimination only if the cases under comparison are not sufficiently different to justify the difference in treatment. This expressed by saying that the two cases must be in an ‘analogous situation’. The social security system is a . .
Cited – Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza HL 21-Jun-2004
Same Sex Partner Entitled to tenancy Succession
The protected tenant had died. His same-sex partner sought a statutory inheritance of the tenancy.
Held: His appeal succeeded. The Fitzpatrick case referred to the position before the 1998 Act: ‘Discriminatory law undermines the rule of law . .
Cited – Thlimmenos v Greece ECHR 6-Apr-2000
(Grand Chamber) The application of a rule that a felon could not become a chartered accountant infringed the rights under article 14, taken in conjunction with article 9, of a pacifist convicted of the felony of refusing to perform military service. . .
Cited – Defrenne v Sabena (No 2) ECJ 8-Apr-1976
ECJ The principle that men and women should receive equal pay, which is laid down by article 119, is one of the foundations of the community. It may be relied on before the national courts. These courts have a . .
Cited – Relating to certain aspects of the laws on the use of languages in education in Belgium (Belgian Linguistics) No 2 ECHR 9-Feb-1967
The applicants, parents of more than 800 Francophone children, living in certain (mostly Dutch-speaking) parts of Belgium, complained that their children were denied access to an education in French.
Held: In establishing a system or regime to . .
Cited – Shamoon v Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary HL 27-Feb-2003
The applicant was a chief inspector of police. She had been prevented from carrying out appraisals of other senior staff, and complained of sex discrimination.
Held: The claimant’s appeal failed. The tribunal had taken a two stage approach. It . .
Cited – Wessels-Bergervoet v The Netherlands ECHR 12-Nov-2002
Hudoc Judgment (Struck out of the list) Struck out of the list (friendly settlement) . .
Cited – Johnston and Others v Ireland ECHR 18-Dec-1986
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Preliminary objection rejected (victim); Preliminary objection rejected (non-exhaustion); Violation of Art. 8; Pecuniary damage – claim rejected; Non-pecuniary damage . .
Cited – Nasser v United Bank of Kuwait CA 21-Dec-2001
The claimant appealed against a decision to strike out her claim for want of prosecution, and a failure to pay a sum ordered as security for costs. She had put jewelry with the defendants for safe keeping, and alleged it had been stolen. The lock on . .
Cited – Nasser v United Bank of Kuwait CA 11-Apr-2001
The claimant, a foreign resident, alleged that her jewels had been stolen from a deposit box while in possession of the defendants. The defendants sought security for costs.
Held: An order for security may not legitimately be based on the bare . .
Cited – Regina v Director of Public Prosecutions, ex parte Kebilene and others HL 28-Oct-1999
(Orse Kebeline) The DPP’s appeal succeeded. A decision by the DPP to authorise a prosecution could not be judicially reviewed unless dishonesty, bad faith, or some other exceptional circumstance could be shown. A suggestion that the offence for . .
Cited – Asmundsson v Iceland ECHR 12-Oct-2004
A seaman aged 30 had a serious accident at work, as a result of which he had to stop working as a seaman. His disability was assessed at 100%, and he became eligible for a disability pension from the Seamen’s Pension Fund, a statutory contributory . .
Cited – Francis v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CA 10-Nov-2005
The applicant had sought payment of a ‘Sure Start’ maternity grant. She had obtained a residence order in respect of her sister’s baby daughter who had been taken into care. She said that a payment would have been made to the partner of a mother or . .
Cited – Wilson v Wychavon District Council and Another Admn 20-Dec-2005
The claimant complained that the law which protected an occupier of a dwelling house from a temporary stop notice did not apply to those living in caravans, and that this was discriminatory.
Held: The claim failed. ‘usually a change of use of . .
Cited – Wilkinson v Kitzinger and others FD 31-Jul-2006
The parties had gone through a ceremony of marriage in Columbia, being both women. After the relationship failed, the claimant sought a declaration that the witholding of the recognition of same-sex marriages recoginised in a foreign jurisdiction . .
Cited – In re P and Others, (Adoption: Unmarried couple) (Northern Ireland); In re G HL 18-Jun-2008
The applicants complained that as an unmarried couple they had been excluded from consideration as adopters.
Held: Northern Ireland legislation had not moved in the same way as it had for other jurisdictions within the UK. The greater . .
Cited – Animal Defenders International, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport HL 12-Mar-2008
The applicant, a non-profit company who campaigned against animal cruelty, sought a declaration of incompatibility for section 321(2) of the 2003 Act, which prevented adverts with political purposes, as an unjustified restraint on the right of . .
Cited – AL (Serbia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Rudi v Same HL 25-Jun-2008
Each claimant had arrived here with their parents, and stayed for several years. They were excluded from the scheme allowing families who had been here more than three years to stay here, because they had attained 18 and were no longer dependant on . .
Cited – Watkins-Singh, Regina (on the Application of) v The Governing Body of Aberdare Girls’ High School and Another Admn 29-Jul-2008
Miss Singh challenged her school’s policy which operated to prevent her wearing while at school a steel bangle, a Kara. She said this was part of her religion as a Sikh.
Held: Earlier comparable applications had been made under human rights . .
Cited – RJM, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions HL 22-Oct-2008
The 1987 Regulations provided additional benefits for disabled persons, but excluded from benefit those who had nowhere to sleep. The claimant said this was irrational. He had been receiving the disability premium to his benefits, but this was . .
Cited – Re E (A Child); E v Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Another (Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and others intervening) HL 12-Nov-2008
(Northern Ireland) Children had been taken to school in the face of vehement protests from Loyalists. The parents complained that the police had failed to protect them properly, since the behaviour was so bad as to amount to inhuman or degrading . .
At House of Lords – Carson 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 . .
Cited – Rodriguez v Minister of Housing of The Government and Another PC 14-Dec-2009
Gibraltar – The claimant challenged a public housing allocation policy which gave preference to married couples and parents of children, excluding same sex and infertile couples.
Held: The aim of discouraging homosexual relationships is . .
Cited – Stewart v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CA 29-Jul-2011
The court considered the arrangements for providing public support for the costs of funerals. The claimant’s son had died whilst she was in prison. Assistance had been refused because, as a prisoner, she was not receiving benefits. She complained . .
Cited – T, Regina (on The Application of) v Greater Manchester Police and Another Admn 9-Feb-2012
The claimant challenged the terms of an enhanced Criminal Records Certificate issued by the defendant. He had been warned in 2002 for suspicion of theft of two cycles. The record had been stepped down in 2009, but then re-instated. He wished to . .
Cited – National Secular Society and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Bideford Town Council Admn 10-Feb-2012
The claimant challenged the placing of a prayer on the agenda of the respondent’s meetings.
Held: The claim succeeded. The placing of such elements on the Agenda was outside the powers given to the Council, and the action was ultra vires: . .
Cited – Seldon v Clarkson Wright and Jakes SC 25-Apr-2012
The appellant claimed that the requirement imposed on him to retire from his law firm partnership on attaining 65 was an unlawful discrimination on the grounds of age.
Held: The matter was remitted to the Employment tribunal to see whether the . .
Cited – Humphreys v Revenue and Customs SC 16-May-2012
Separated parents shared the care of their child. The father complained that all the Child Tax Credit was given to the mother.
Held: The appeal failed. Although the rule does happen to be indirectly discriminatory against fathers, the . .
Cited – Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills SC 25-Feb-2015
Appeal about the distribution of European Structural Funds among the regions of the United Kingdom. It arises out of the complaint of a number of local authorities in Merseyside and South Yorkshire about the way in which it is proposed to distribute . .
Cited – Tigere, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills SC 29-Jul-2015
After increasing university fees, the student loan system was part funded by the government. They introduced limits to the availability of such loans, and a student must have been lawfully ordinarily resident in the UK for three years before the day . .
Cited – McLaughlin, Re Judicial Review SC 30-Aug-2018
The applicant a differently sexed couple sought to marry under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, but complained that they would lose the benefits of widowed parent’s allowance. Parliament had decided to delay such rules to allow assessment of reaction . .
Cited – Stott, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice SC 28-Nov-2018
The prisoner was subject to an extended determinate sentence (21 years plus 4) for 10 offences of rape. He complained that as such he would only be eligible for parole after serving two thirds of his sentence rather than one third, and said that . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Benefits, Discrimination, Human Rights
Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.225293