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 cancelled when he lost his home.
Held: The appeal was dismissed. The disabilty premium, as part of the UK’s social welfare system, was a sufficient possession to found a claim within article 14. It was necessary for a person alleging infringement to establish that the discrimination was connected with a status, a personal characteristic. That phrase should be given a generous interpretation, and homelessess was such a status. Nevertheless, this was a matter of policy in which courts should be slow to intervene: ‘the discrimination in the present case was justified, in the sense that the government was entitled to adopt and apply the policy at issue. This is an area where the court should be very slow to substitute its view for that of the executive, especially as the discrimination is not on one of the express, or primary, grounds.’
The House was asked whether the Court of Appeal was obliged to apply an earlier decision which was was incompatible with a later decision of the European Court of Human Rghts.
Held: Where the earlier decision was one by the House of Lords, it must be left to the House to reconsider the issue if needed, but ‘decisions of the ECtHR are not always followed as literally as some might expect.’ and ‘As a matter of principle, it should be for this House, not for the Court of Appeal, to determine whether one of its earlier decisions has been overtaken by a decision of the ECtHR.’ The Court of Appeal was entitled to depart from its earlier decision in Campbell [2004] 3 All ER 387, as a result of the subsequent decision of the ECtHR in Stec 41 EHRR SE295.


Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Lord Mance, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury


[2008] UKHL 63, [2008] 3 WLR 1023, [2009] 2 All ER 556, [2009] HRLR 5, [2009] PTSR 336, [2009] UKHRR 117, [2009] 1 AC 311


Bailii, HL, Times


Income Support (General) Regulations 1987, European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 14, Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992


England and Wales


At first InstanceRJM, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Admn 13-Jul-2006
. .
Appeal fromRJM, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CA 28-Jun-2007
Whether a person who is entitled to income support and who would otherwise be entitled to disability premium as part of his IS loses his entitlement to DP during any period in which he is ‘without accommodation’. . .
CitedKjeldsen, 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 . .
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 . .
CitedAdam, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Limbuela v Same; Tesema v Same HL 3-Nov-2005
The applicants had each entered the UK with a view to seeking asylum, but having failed to seek asylum immediately, they had been refused any assistance, were not allowed to work and so had been left destitute. Each had claimed asylum on the day . .
CitedStubbings and Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 22-Oct-1996
There was no human rights breach where the victims of sex abuse had been refused a right to sue for damages out of time. The question is whether and to what extent differences in otherwise similar situations justify a different treatment in law: . .
CitedAnimal 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 . .
CitedCarson, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; Reynolds v Same HL 26-May-2005
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 . .
CitedKafkaris v Cyprus ECHR 12-Feb-2008
(Grand Chamber) The claimant said that his rights had been infringed by the mandatory imposition of a life sentence after conviction for murder. Only the President could order the release of such a prisoner, either by exercising the power of mercy . .
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 . .
CitedYoung v The Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd CA 28-Jul-1944
Court of Appeal must follow Own Decisions
The claimant was injured and received compensation. He then sought to recover again, alleging breach of statutory duty by his employers.
Held: The Court of Appeal was in general bound to follow its own previous decisions. The court considered . .
CitedEngel And Others v The Netherlands (1) ECHR 8-Jun-1976
The court was asked whether proceedings in a military court against soldiers for disciplinary offences involved criminal charges within the meaning of Article 6(1): ‘In this connection, it is first necessary to know whether the provision(s) defining . .
CitedSidabras and Dziautas v Lithuania ECHR 27-Jul-2004
Former KGB officers had been banned from employment in a range of public and private sector jobs, including as lawyers, notaries, bank employees and in the teaching profession. They complained of infringement of Article 8 taken alone and also in . .
CitedDavis v Johnson HL 2-Jan-1978
The court was asked to interpret the 1976 Act to see whether its protection extended to cohabitees as well as to wives. In doing so it had to look at practice in the Court of Appeal in having to follow precedent.
Held: The operation of the . .
CitedJohnston 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 . .
CitedChassagnou and Others v France ECHR 29-Apr-1999
A law permitted local authorities to oblige landowners to transfer hunting rights over private land to approved hunting associations. The landowners could not prevent hunting on their property. Landowners so affected were made members automatically . .
CitedGerger v Turkey ECHR 8-Jul-1999
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Violation of Art. 10; Preliminary objection rejected (non-exhaustion, lack of jurisdiction); Violation of Art. 6-1 (independent and impartial tribunal); Not necessary . .
CitedDesnousse v London Borough of Newham and others CA 17-May-2006
The occupier had been granted a temporary licence by the authority under the homelessness provisions whilst it made its assessment. The assessment concluded that she had become homeless intentionally, and therefore terminated the licence and set out . .
CitedCampbell and others v South Northamptonshire District Council, Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions CA 7-Apr-2004
The claimants were members of the Jesus Fellowship church, living communally. Their claim for housing benefit was rejected on the basis that the payment made was not by way of a commercial rental.
Held: The court could take into account the . .
CitedWilson v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry; Wilson v First County Trust Ltd (No 2) HL 10-Jul-2003
The respondent appealed against a finding that the provision which made a loan agreement completely invalid for lack of compliance with the 1974 Act was itself invalid under the Human Rights Act since it deprived the respondent lender of its . .
FollowedKjeldsen, Busk Madsen and Pedersen v Denmark ECHR 7-Dec-1976
The court discussed the meaning of ‘other status’ under article 14, saying: ‘Article 14 prohibits, within the ambit of the rights and freedoms guaranteed, discriminatory treatment having as its basis or reason a personal characteristic (‘status’) by . .

Cited by:

CitedPurdy, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions and others CA 19-Feb-2009
The claimant suffered a debilitating terminal disease. She anticipated going to commit suicide at a clinic in Switzerland, and wanted first a clear policy so that her husband who might accompany her would know whether he might be prosecuted under . .
CitedPurdy, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 30-Jul-2009
Need for Certainty in Scope of Offence
The appellant suffered a severe chronic illness and anticipated that she might want to go to Switzerland to commit suicide. She would need her husband to accompany her, and sought an order requiring the respondent to provide clear guidelines on the . .
CitedN, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Health; Regina (E) v Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust CA 24-Jul-2009
The claimants appealed against the imposition on them of smoking bans while they were compulsorily detained at Rampton Hospital. They said that other persons detained for example in prisons had been exempted fully.
Held: The right or freedom . .
CitedStewart 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 . .
CitedHumphreys 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 . .
CitedTW v London Borough of Enfield and Another QBD 8-May-2013
The claimant sought damages after being detained under the 1983 Act, and a declaration that the section used was incompatible with her human rights.
Held: The test for allowing proceedings was set at a low level, and even if section 139 does . .
CitedMA and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Others QBD 30-Jul-2013
Ten disabled claimants challenged the changes to the 2006 Regulations introduced by the 2012 Regulations. The changes restricted the ability to claim Housing Benefit for bedrooms deemed extra. The claimants said that in their different ways each had . .
CitedMathieson 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 . .
CitedT and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department and Another SC 18-Jun-2014
T and JB, asserted that the reference in certificates issued by the state to cautions given to them violated their right to respect for their private life under article 8 of the Convention. T further claims that the obligation cast upon him to . .
CitedTigere, 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 . .
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 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Benefits, Housing, Human Rights

Updated: 07 February 2022; Ref: scu.277129