SC, CB and 8 Children, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Others: SC 9 Jul 2021

The Supreme Court was asked to decide whether the ‘two child limit’, a provision of primary legislation which restricts payment of amounts of subsistence benefit for children to the first two children in a family, is incompatible with the Appellants’ rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Lord Reed observed that the concept of the margin of appreciation is specific to the European Court but domestic courts have generally endeavoured to apply an analogous approach to that of the European Court, for two reasons. The first is the Ullah principle: where the European Court would allow a wide margin of appreciation to the legislature’s policy choice, the domestic courts allow a correspondingly wide margin or ‘discretionary area of judgment’. The second reason is that domestic courts have to respect the separation of powers between the judiciary and the elected branches of government. They therefore have to accord appropriate respect to the choices made in the field of social and economic policy by the Government and Parliament, while at the same time providing a safeguard against unjustifiable discrimination.


Lord Reed, President, Lord Hodge, Deputy President, Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Kitchin, Lord Sales, Lord Stephens


[2021] UKSC 26, [2021] WLR(D) 382, [2021] 3 WLR 428, [2022] AC 223, [2021] HRLR 14


Bailii, Bailii Press Summary, Bailii Issues and Facts, WLRD


Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, European Convention on Human Rights


England and Wales


Appeal fromSC and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Others CA 16-Apr-2019
Challenge to two child limit for child tax credit. . .

Cited by:

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
The Claimants sought a declaration that section 1(1)(d) of the Abortion Act 1967, as amended, is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’), as well as some other remedies. The claimant had Down’s Syndrome, and complained the . .
CitedThe Department for Communities v Cox CANI 3-Aug-2021
The claimant suffered a life limiting condition, but not so that her death could be reasonably expected within six months. She complained that the resulting unavailability of PIP and UC without assessment was discriminatory as opposed to those who . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Benefits, Human Rights

Updated: 15 April 2022; Ref: scu.666001