Mathieson v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: SC 8 Jul 2015

The claimant a boy of three in receipt of disability living allowance (‘DLA’) challenged (through his parents) the withdrawal of that benefit whilst he was in hospital for a period of more than 12 weeks. He had since died.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The Regulations infringed the claimant’s rights because the evidence was that in fact the expenses of caring for a very sick child increased when he was admitted to hospital. This had been particularly so for C. Parents were now expected or indeed required to be with him. The Regulations were based upon the contrary assumption.
The Regulations automatically suspending DLA after he had been an in-patient in an NHS hospital for more than 84 days, were held by the Supreme Court to unlawfully discriminate against a severely disabled child who was required to remain in hospital for periods longer than 84 days, in comparison with other severely disabled children who were not required to remain in hospital for such long periods.
Lord Mance said that broadly drawn rules are an important feature of the benefit system; the rules cannot be framed to address individual cases.
Lord Wilson, having reviewed the authorities, said: ‘It is clear that, if the alleged discrimination falls within the scope of a Convention right, the ECtHR is reluctant to conclude that nevertheless the applicant has no relevant status, with the result that the inquiry into discrimination cannot proceed.
Decisions both in our courts and in the ECtHR therefore combine to lead me to the confident conclusion that, as a severely disabled child in need of lengthy in-patient hospital treatment, Cameron had a status falling within the grounds of discrimination prohibited by article 14. Disability is a prohibited ground (Burnip v Birmingham City Council [2012] EWCA Civ 629, [2013] PTSR 117). Why should discrimination (if such it be) between disabled persons with different needs engage article 14 any less than discrimination between a disabled person and an able-bodied person? Whether, as in Cameron’s case, the person is born disabled or whether he becomes disabled, his disability is or becomes innate; and insofar as in the RJM case Lord Walker seems to have had three circles in mind, Cameron’s case falls either within the narrowest of them or at least within the one in the middle.’


Lady Hale, Deputy President, Lord Mance, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Reed


UKSC 2014/0166, [2015 UKSC 47, [2015] WLR(D) 296, [2015] 1 WLR 3250, (2015) 39 BHRC 372, [2016] 1 All ER 779, (2015) 146 BMLR 1


Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary, WLRD


Social Security (Disability Living Allowance) Regulations 1991, European Convention on Human Rights, Disability Living Allowance and Disability Working Allowance Act 1991


England and Wales


At UTAM (By Appointee Mr CM) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions UTAA 15-Jan-2013
Human rights law – article 8 (private and family life) – disability living allowance . .
Appeal fromAM (By His Father CM) v The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CA 5-Feb-2014
The child suffered serious conditions requiring care from his parents. He received Disability Living Allowance, but this was withdrawn when he had a lengthy stay in hospital. He had since died. The parents had given considerable assistance in the . .
CitedCockburn v Chief Adjudication Officer and Another and Secretary of State for Social Services v Fairey HL 21-May-1997
The provision of an interpreter for a deaf person was included in range of care needed for attendance for Disability Living Allowance. Dealing with his soiled laundry was not so included: ‘In my opinion it is not enough to ask whether the act in . .
CitedSidabras And Dziautas v Lithuania ECHR 27-Jul-2004
Former KGB officers complained that they were banned, not only from public sector employment, but also from many private sector posts. This ‘affected [their] ability to develop relationships with the outside world to a very significant degree, and . .
CitedStec and Others v United Kingdom ECHR 12-Apr-2006
(Grand Chamber) The claimants said that differences between the sexes in the payment of reduced earning allowances and retirement allowances were sex discrimination.
Held: The differences were not infringing sex discrimination. The differences . .
CitedClift, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 13-Dec-2006
The claimants were former serving prisoners who complained that the early release provisions discriminated against them unjustifiably. Each was subject to a deportation requirement, and said that in their cases the control on the time for their . .
CitedAL (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 . .
CitedRJM, 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 . .
CitedIn 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 . .
CitedRecovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill (Reference By The Counsel General for Wales) SC 9-Feb-2015
The court was asked whether the Bill was within the competence of the Welsh Assembly. The Bill purported to impose NHS charges on those from whom asbestos related damages were recovered.
Held: The Bill fell outside the legislative competence . .
CitedBurnip v Birmingham City Council and Another CA 15-May-2012
Disability is a prohibited ground for discrimination
Henderson J said: ‘ . . it is necessary to draw a clear distinction between the benefits which Mr Burnip was entitled to claim for his subsistence, and those which he was entitled to claim in . .

Cited by:

CitedVincent and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Admn 23-Jul-2020
. .
CitedCornerstone (North East) Adoption and Fostering Service Ltd (T/A Cornerstone), Regina (on The Application of) v The Office for Education, Children’s Services and Skills Admn 27-Jul-2020
. .
CitedStott, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice SC 28-Nov-2018
Extended Determinate Sentence created Other Status
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 . .
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 . .
CitedSamuels v Birmingham City Council SC 12-Jun-2019
The appellant had been provided with emergency accommodation after losing her assured shorthold tenancy, but the court was now asked ‘whether the council adopted the correct approach in determining that the accommodation was ‘affordable’ for those . .
CitedRR v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions SC 13-Nov-2019
Housing benefit regulations had been found unlawful and were amended. The Court now considered what payments should have been made before the amendments came into effect.
Held: The appeal was allowed, and RR’s housing benefit entitlement is to . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Benefits, Discrimination

Updated: 09 May 2022; Ref: scu.549908