AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
by Luis ECHEGARAY
against the United Kingdom
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 14 October 2008 as a Chamber composed of:
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mihai Poalelungi, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 4 June 2001,
Having regard to the decision to communicate this application and to join it to other applications (nos. 27947/02, 27955/02, 27958/02, 27959/02, 27960/02, 27961/02, 27963/02, 27968/02, 27970/02, 27985/02, 28003/02, 28011/02, 28014/02, 28016/02, 28018/02, 28025/02, 28026/02, 28029/02, 28033/02, 28035/02, 28040/02, 28046/02, 28047/02, 28054/02, 28056/02, 28058/02, 28064/02, 28073/02, 28080/02, 28081/02, 28085/02, 28088/02, 28091/02, 28092/02, 28103/02, 28109/02, 28110/02),
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Luis Ecehegeray, is a Peruvian national who was born in 1947 and lives in Surrey. He was represented before the Court by Royds Rdw, solicitors in London. The United Kingdom Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr C. Whomersley of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
The applicant's wife died on 27 June 1995. His claim for widows' benefits was made on 27 November 2000 and was rejected on 4 December 2000 on the ground that he was not entitled to widows' benefits because he was not a woman. The applicant did not appeal further as he considered or was advised that such a remedy would be bound to fail since no such social security benefits were payable to widowers under United Kingdom law.
The applicant's late wife had not paid sufficient national insurance contributions to qualify her spouse for such benefits.
B. Relevant domestic law
The domestic law relevant to this application is set out in Willis v. the United Kingdom, no. 36042/97, §§ 14 26, ECHR 2002-IV and Runkee and White v. the United Kingdom, no. 42949/98, §§ 40-41, 25 July 2007.
The applicant complained that British social security legislation discriminated against him 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.
The Court recalls that, in accordance with Article 34 of the Convention, it may receive applications only from persons “claiming to be the victim of a violation by one of the High Contracting Parties of the rights set forth in the Convention or the protocols thereto”. A person can claim to be a victim of a particular measure only if he or she is directly affected by it (see, amongst many other authorities, the Norris v. Ireland judgment of 26 October 1998, Series A no. 142, § 30).
The Court notes that the applicant's late wife had not paid sufficient national insurance contributions to qualify a surviving spouse for any of the bereavement benefits claimed. In these circumstances, the applicant cannot claim to be directly affected by the alleged discrimination between men and women or to be a victim of a violation of the Convention since a woman in his position would not have been entitled to the benefits at issue.
It follows that this application is incompatible ratione personae with the provisions of the Convention and must be declared inadmissible in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Disjoins the application from the others to which it was joined;
Declares inadmissible the application.
Lawrence Early Lech Garlicki