Supreme Court reaffirms tribunal powers on human rights

Liberty has reported on an important Supreme Court ruling on the primacy of the Human Rights Act over secondary legislation and the application of unlawful discriminatory policies by public bodies.

The Supreme Court has now confirmed that under the Human Rights Act, public bodies such as the Tribunal have a duty to uphold human rights laws, and not to follow secondary legislation that is incompatible with our human rights.

The case explained in detail on Nearly Legal: Tribunals and human rights

RR v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2019) UKSC 52

The question of the powers of the First Tier and Upper Tribunals (and indeed initial decision makers) to disapply secondary legislation where there is a breach of the appellant’s human rights has reached the Supreme Court. The decision has some far reaching implications for bedroom tax appeals and beyond.

We commented at the time of the Carmichael Upper Tribunal decision:

Where a tribunal finds that the operation of such secondary legislation results in a breach of human rights, it can disapply or ‘not give effect’ to the relevant part of those regulations so as to avoid the breach.

This is a very significant decision, impacting not only first instance benefit decision makers, but extending the powers of the FTT and Upper Tribunal. This will have ramifications that will be explored for quite some time.


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