A Supreme Court judgment has today confirmed that tribunals and other public bodies must disapply regulations in situations where applying them would lead to a breach of human rights.
The case arose from a series of litigation, firstly successfully challenging, in judicial review proceedings, the application of the bedroom tax in situations where a couple cannot share a bedroom due to one partner’s disabilities or where an additional bedroom is needed to accommodate the overnight carer of a disabled child and then seeking to obtain full housing benefit entitlement through the statutory appeal system.
The case was brought by solicitors Leigh Day with Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), Public Law Project and Liberty jointly intervening as well as the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Welcoming today’s judgment, Child Poverty Action Group’s Head of Strategic Litigation Carla Clarke said:
“Today’s ruling is extremely welcome and confirms that ordinary individuals throughout the UK can rely on the Human Rights Act as a matter of practical reality rather than simply as a theoretical possibility. This means that households with a medical need for an additional bedroom, and who had appealed the application of the bedroom tax to them before the DWP amended the legislation prospectively after an earlier successful legal challenge on disability discrimination grounds, can now have their appeals decided with the Tribunals required to apply the original law in a way which avoids a breach of their right to non-discrimination - in other words, to not apply the bedroom tax to them.”
“That the DWP sought to argue that public bodies such as Tribunals had no choice but to make decisions applying regulations as written even though those regulations were recognised as breaching the individual’s human rights is extremely regrettable. Thankfully the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, has made clear that the obligation on public authorities not to act in a way which is incompatible with a person’s human rights means exactly what it says.”
Note to Editors:
CPAG media contact: Jane Ahrends 0207 812 5216 or 07816 909302