Case Comment: In the matter of an application by Siobhan McLaughlin for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) [2018] UKSC 48 – UKSC Blog

‘It may seem somewhat Dickensian that an unmarried parent would be ineligible for social benefits as a widow/er upon the death of their partner and co-parent, but that was the situation created by the legislation challenged in Re Siobhan McLaughlin for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) [2018] UKSC 48 (Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Hodge and Lady Black). The issue under scrutiny was entitlement to widowed parent’s entitlement (WPA). WPA is a contributory social security benefit payable to parents of dependent children who are widowed; but, at the time of the claim, a widowed parent was only eligible for WPA if at the time of the death, s/he was married to, or the civil partner of, the deceased [para 1 of the judgment]. The appellant, who had four dependent children with her deceased partner, but had never married him, argued that this requirement discriminated against the survivor and/or the children on the basis of their marital or birth status, contrary to ECHR, art 14. The Supreme Court allowed the appeal majority of 4 to 1 (Lord Hodge dissenting) and made a declaration that s 39A is incompatible with ECHR, art 14 read with art 8, insofar as it precludes any entitlement to WPA by a surviving unmarried partner of the deceased.’