White v United Kingdom: ECHR 7 Jun 2001

The UK Government took the unattractive point that the claimant had advanced a claim in writing for benefit had not done so on the official form, although it was designed specifically for widows.
Held: The Court notes that in the present case the applicant made clear in the form notifying the social security office of the death of his wife that he wished to claim ‘widowers’ benefits’. The Court further notes that on two occasions a Minister of the Department of Social Security wrote to the applicant’s Member of Parliament confirming that, as a man, the applicant was not entitled under the current law to claim widows’ benefits. The court would look to the substance not the form. The Government contend that the applicant never made a claim for any benefits ‘in the proper form’ and that, applying the Court’s reasoning in the Cornwell case, the applicant cannot claim to be a victim of discrimination in violation of the Convention. The Court is unable to accept this argument. As appears from the Cornwell decision itself, the precise form in which an applicant indicates his intention to claim benefits is not of importance, the central question being whether the applicant has made clear his wish to claim benefits. The Court finds that in the present case the applicant made clear such intention and that he can accordingly claim to be a victim of a violation of the Convention for the purposes of Article 34.’


Unreported, 7 June 2001


Human Rights

Human Rights, Benefits

Updated: 26 May 2022; Ref: scu.184320