AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
by Laurence LUSTGARTEN
against the United Kingdom
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 24 June 2008 as a Chamber composed of:
Lech Garlicki, President,
Ledi Bianku, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 7 February 2001,
Having regard to the partial decision of 30 April 2002,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Laurence Lustgarten, is a United Kingdom national, who was born in 1946 and lives in Oxford. He was unrepresented before the Court. 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 20 May 1999. They had no children from the marriage. On or around 1 April 2000, the applicant made a claim for widows’ benefits. On 11 April 2000 the applicant was informed that his claim had been disallowed as he was not a woman. The applicant appealed to the Social Security Appeal Tribunal. On 17 August 2000 the appeal was adjourned pending service of a skeleton argument by the applicant and a response by the Benefits Agency. In January 2002, the applicant was informed that the file relating to his appeal had gone “missing”.
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 benefit was payable to widowers under United Kingdom law.
B. Relevant domestic law
The domestic law relevant to this application is set out in 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.
In respect of Widow’s Pension (“WP”), the Court held in its lead judgment that at its origin, and until its abolition in respect of women whose spouses died after 9 April 2001, WP was intended to correct “factual inequalities” between older widows, as a group, and the rest of the population and that this difference in treatment was reasonably and objectively justified. Moreover, the Court considered that the United Kingdom could not be criticised for not having abolished WP earlier and that it was not unreasonable of the legislature to decide to introduce the reform slowly (see Runkee and White, cited above, §§ 40-41). The Court, consequently, considering it was not necessary to examine separately the complaint in respect of Article 8, did not find a violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in respect of the non-payment to the applicants of Widow’s Pension or equivalent (ibid § 42).
Consequently, the complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Declares inadmissible the remainder of the application.
Lawrence Early Lech Garlicki