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Human rights of expats not breached

23 March 2010

Thirteen British expats who brought a test case to have their pensions index-linked have lost the final possible appeal against the government’s decision not to up-rate them in line with those of pensioners living in Britain.

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held that the decision to freeze the pensions of British nationals who retired abroad at the level in force when they started drawing it was not a breach of their human rights.

The Strasbourg judges found in Carson and Ors v United Kingdom (application 42184/05) that the claimants were not in the same position as pensioners who took retirement in the UK or in a country with which the UK has a reciprocal agreement, such as the US and EU member states.

Claiming the contrary would be based on a misconception of the relationship between national insurance contributions and the state pension, the court said. Unlike private pension schemes, NI contributions had no exclusive link to retirement pensions.

The judges held by an 11/6 majority that there had been no breach of article 14 ECHR on the prohibition of discrimination, combined with protocol 1 on the protection of property.

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