UK: Supreme Court closes gap between married gay & heterosexual couples in pension judgment against Innospec

Author: Owen Bowcott, Guardian (UK), Published on: 17 July 2017

"The man who won a landmark legal battle for same-sex pension rights", 17 Jul 2017

…In a unanimous decision, five supreme court justices declared that…on [the gay claimant]’s death his partner…will be entitled to a spouse’s pension...

The refusal of his former employer, the chemicals company Innospec, to grant his partner the same benefits it would have awarded a wife infuriated [the claimant]...

In 2003, [the claimant] retired at the age of 50. As he understood it, he had negotiated a deal with the firm ensuring his partner obtained rights equivalent to a widow’s pension. In an exchange of faxes, he received a message confirming “safe receipt” of the request message.

The staff subsequently changed. The firm, according to [the claimant], later argued that “safe receipt” did not mean that the benefit had been granted. Innospec has declined to comment...

That rebuff triggered a legal challenge fought all the way up through employment tribunals, the court of appeal and, ultimately, the supreme court…

Since 80% of firms have granted spouses’ benefits to gay couples already, [the claimant] said, the impacts on private firms will be relatively modest. [According to] estimates it would cost £100m for the private sector...to deliver financial equality.

[The claimant] is confident his legal victory was worth it. “This was, as far as I know, the last legal differential between gay and heterosexual people,” he said. “There’s no need to talk about married and ‘same-sex married’ couples any more. I don’t believe there’s any difference.”

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Related companies: Octel