Legal comment: Gay man secures equal pension rights in Supreme Court

A man has won a legal battle to provide his husband with equal pension rights in a landmark Supreme Court discrimination case.

A man has won a legal battle to provide his husband with equal pension rights in a landmark Supreme Court discrimination case.

The unanimous judgment, which could benefit thousands of couples, will ensure that should he die first, his husband will have access to an income of about £45,000 a year for life, as opposed to the £1000 he would have been entitled to under current legislation.

Mark Poulston, Partner and head of Pensions at Weightmans, said:
 
"Today's decision ensures that all civil partners and married couples, whether they are of the same sex or opposite sex, have equal pension rights in the event of death. Thousands of couples will benefit.
 
"It also comes as an additional cost to many employers.  An exemption in the Equality Act has previously allowed pension schemes to limit pension benefits for surviving civil partners or spouses of the same sex to those built up since 5 December 2005, when the Civil Partnership Act came into effect. This exemption had been reviewed by government in June 2014 when, against a background of already escalating pension liabilities, it did not make any recommendations to remove the exemption. 
 
"The Supreme Court has now resolved the issue, requiring equal treatment. However, as its decision is based on EU equality laws, the next question is whether this new protection will survive the upheaval of Brexit."

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