State Pension  

Women state pension case lost in appeals court

Women state pension case lost in appeals court

The Court of Appeal has backed a previous High Court judgment and rejected claims that the increase in the state pension age affecting women born in the 1950s was discriminatory.

In a judgment handed down today (September 15) in the Court of Appeal, Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Underhill and Lady Justice Rose unanimously dismissed claims of age discrimination, sex discrimination and lack of notice.

All three court judges found that introducing the same state pension age for men and women did not amount to unlawful discrimination under EU or human rights laws.

The case was brought by two claimants Julie Delve, 61, and Karen Glynn, 62 – who argued that raising their pension age "unlawfully discriminated against them on the grounds of age, sex, and age and sex combined".

The women’s judicial review took place in June 2019 but a High Court found against the claimants in October 2019 and the two women have now lost their case at the Court of Appeal.

As part of today's judgment, the judges said “despite the sympathy that we, like the members of the Divisional Court (High Court), feel for the appellants and other women in their position, we are satisfied that this is not a case where the court can interfere with the decisions taken through the parliamentary process.”

The court found that legislation behind the pension age change had been introduced to “deal with matters of the highest economic and social importance” and aimed to ensure intergenerational fairness, “to make pensions affordable at a time of great pressure on public finances, and to reflect changing demographics, life expectancy and social conditions”.

It also found that the DWP had taken adequate steps to notify those affected of the change to state pension age.

The ruling stated: “There was no duty to notify those affected by the change in state pension age and that the Divisional Court were entitled to conclude as a fact that there has been adequate and reasonable notification given by the publicity campaigns implemented by the department over a number of years.”

Plans to increase the state pension age were first announced in the Pension Act 1995 but these changes were accelerated as part of the Pension Act 2011.

The Backto60 group, along with The Women Against State Pension Inequality, claimed the changes were implemented unfairly and are campaigning to have compensation paid to 3.8m women born in the 1950s.

They believe the changes were made so quickly that these women were left with no time to make alternative plans.

But the government argued that the judicial review was brought too late as the case wasn’t brought until 2019. 

Michael Mansfield QC, representing the two women, said if the judicial review had been brought shortly after the enactment of the state pension age changes then their claim would have been dismissed as premature.

However, the judges found the case had been brought “out of time” and that “if the court had upheld any of the grounds of discrimination, the long delay in bringing these claims would have made it almost impossible to fashion any practical remedy”.