Backto60 women lose state pension age challenge

Cases

The Court of Appeal has handed down judgment on 15 September 2020 in the case of R(Delve) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. This was the claimants’ appeal in a judicial review case supported by the campaign group BackTo60, seeking reversal of the increase in women’s state pension age from 60 to 66 on the basis that it was (i) contrary to EU law; (ii) unlawfully discriminatory under EU law and the ECHR; and (iii) unlawful as a matter of domestic public law, because women born in the 1950s had been given insufficient notice of the legislative changes. The CoA has found against the claimants. On discrimination, it stated that “this is not a case where the court can interfere with the decisions taken through the parliamentary process”. It agreed with the High Court’s conclusion that it was impossible to say that the government’s decision to strike the balance where it did – between the need to put state pension provision on a sustainable footing and the recognition of the hardship that could result for those affected by the changes – was manifestly without reasonable foundation. On notification, it found that the government had no duty to notify those affected of changes set out in primary legislation, and that in any case there was no basis for overturning the High Court’s conclusion that reasonable steps to notify those affected had in fact been taken. It also held that in any event, if relief had been appropriate, it would have been refused for delay, in circumstances where it would have cost well over two hundred billion pounds to reverse the changes.

Julian Milford QC of 11KBW acted for the government with Sir James Eadie QC.