AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
Application nos. 63587/00, 28034/02 and 30478/02
Atkinson and others
against the United Kingdom
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 26 September 2006 as a Chamber composed of:
Mr J. Casadevall,
Sir Nicolas Bratza,
Mr G. Bonello,
Mr M. Pellonpää,
Mr K. Traja,
Mr S. Pavlovschi,
Mr J. Šikuta, judges,
and Mr T.L.Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the partial decisions of 8 October 2002 (63587/00) and of 12 November 2002 (28034/02 and 30478/02),
Having regard to the applicants’ declarations accepting the respondent Government’s friendly settlement offers in the above cases,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicants are all male British nationals whose wives have died and who have attempted to claim equivalent benefits to those which female widows were entitled at the relevant time in the United Kingdom (see attached table).
Mr Raymond Atkinson, born in 1949, is not represented. He lives in Nomansheath, Cheshire.
Mr Philip McAleenan, born in 1953, is represented before the Court by Royds RDW, solicitors practising in London. He lives in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.
Mr Glen Rowley, born in 1959, is represented before the Court by Ms Rachel Wilcox, Welfare Rights Adviser of the Warwickshire Welfare Rights Advice Service. He lives in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
Relevant domestic law
The domestic law relevant to these applications is set out in Willis v. the United Kingdom, no. 36042/97, §§ 14-26, ECHR 2002-IV.
The applicants complain that British social security and tax legislation discriminated against them on grounds of sex, in breach of Article 14 of the Convention taken in conjunction with both Article 8 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
By a letter of 11 May 2005 the respondent Government informed the Court that the House of Lords had decided, in relation to the claims for Widowed Mother’s Allowance (WMA) and Widow’s Payment (WPt), that there was in principle no objective justification at the relevant time for not paying these benefits to widowers as well as widows, but that the Government had a defence under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (the HRA). It noted that, in view of this, the multitude of cases before the Court and the fact that the HRA defence is only applicable in the domestic arena, the Government were prepared, in principle, to settle all claims made by widowers against the United Kingdom arising out of the arrangements applicable prior to April 2001 for the payment of WMA and WPt.
On 11 April 2006 the Government informed the Court that Mr Atkinson had been offered, accepted and received GBP 4,711.07 in settlement of his case. Mr Atkinson confirmed the information on 24 May 2006.
On 24 May and 14 June 2006 Mr Rowley’s representative informed the Court that the applicant had accepted the Government’s offer of GBP 1,252.04 and had received payment.
On 5 July 2006, Mr McAleenan’s representatives informed the Registry that the applicant had accepted the Government’s offer of GBP 6,960.46 and had received the settlement monies.
The applicants may be regarded as no longer wishing to pursue their applications within the meaning of Article 37 § 1 (a) of the Convention. In accordance with Article 37 § 1, respect for Human Rights as defined in the Convention and the Protocols would not require the continuation of the examination of these applications. Accordingly, they should be struck out of the Court’s list of cases.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the applications out of its list of cases.
T.L. Early Josep Casadevall