Financial Human Rights

Financial Human Rights

From time to time CANDEY agrees to accept instructions to act in various financial human rights violations, and take on test cases which have a significant effect on a wide class of wronged claimants. This is particularly the case in the banking and financial services sector.

In a landmark pensions case the firm won in the Court of Appeal against the Secretary of State for Defence.

The appeal concerned Article 30 of the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces (Compensation Scheme) Order 2011, which confers benefits on surviving adult dependants of deceased members of the scheme. The point in issue was the human rights compatibility of a rule – widely replicated across other public sector pension and compensation schemes – that a surviving adult dependant is disentitled from those benefits if he or she remains formally married to an ex-partner. Ms Langford contended that the Rule was discriminatory within the meaning of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’) read with Article 1 of the First Protocol (‘A1P1’). She relied on the Supreme Court’s judgment in Brewster v Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee [2017] 1 WLR 519 (‘Brewster’), in which it was held that a rule requiring unmarried partners to be formally nominated was unlawful on the grounds of unjustified discrimination.

By judgment dated 17 July 2019 the Court of Appeal unanimously found in favour of CANDEY’s client, Ms Langford, allowing the appeal. The lead judgment was given by Lord Justice McCombe, who was critical of the government’s conduct of the litigation, stating: 

“The relaxed way in which the Minister and/or her advisers approached the procedural requirements in this case is not acceptable on the part of any litigant, whoever he or she may be.”

This decision is likely to have a far-reaching impact. The rule which was held to be unlawful in Ms Langford’s case is found in most public sector pension schemes including Education, Police, Fire Service, NHS and Civil Service, which have millions of members. Anyone who has been refused a surviving partner’s pension because they had not divorced an ex-partner may now be able to bring a claim, including for back payments.

[2019] EWCA Civ 1271. 

The firm subsequently successfully defended Ms Langford in an application brought by the Secretary of State for Defence for permission to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal. Lords Wilson, Briggs and Kitchin held that the Government’s appeal failed to raise an arguable point of law.

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