FOURTH SECTION

FINAL DECISION

Application no. 68174/01 
by Michael Anthony Murphy STACEY 
against the United Kingdom

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 4 May 2006 as a Chamber,

Mr J. Casadevall, President
 Sir Nicolas Bratza
 Mr G. Bonello
 Mr M. Pellonpää
 Mr K. Traja
 Mr L. Garlicki, 
 
Mr J. Šikuta, substitute judges,

and Mr M. O’Boyle, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 20 February 2001,

Having regard to the friendly settlement of the case,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Michael Anthony Murphy Stacey, is a British national who was born in 17 August 1960 and who lives in Edinburgh. He is not represented before the Court

A.  The circumstances of the case

The applicant’s wife died on 28 July 1999.

On 22 October 1999 he applied to the Benefits Agency for the payment of social security benefits equivalent to those to which a widow, whose husband had died in similar circumstances to those of his wife, would have been entitled under the Social Security and Benefits Act 1992 (“the 1992 Act”). He was informed that the Benefits Agency was unable to accept his application as a valid claim because the regulations governing the payment of widows’ benefits were specific to women.

His appeal of 21 November 1999 was rejected on 15 December 1999. On 16 January 2001 he appealed to the Appeal Tribunal. His appeal was dismissed.

B.  Relevant domestic law

The domestic law relevant to this application is set out in Willis v. the United Kingdom, no. 36042/97, §§ 14-26, ECHR 2002-IV.

COMPLAINTS

The applicant complains that British social security and tax legislation discriminated against him on grounds of sex, in breach of Article 14 of the Convention taken in conjunction with both Article 8 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.

THE LAW

By a letter of 11 May 2005 the respondent Government informed the Court that the House of Lords had decided, in relation to the claims for Widowed Mother’s Allowance (WMA) and Widow’s Payment (WPt), that there was in principle no objective justification at the relevant time for not paying these benefits to widowers as well as widows, but that the Government had a defence under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (the HRA). It noted that, in view of this, the multitude of cases before the Court and the fact that the HRA defence is only applicable in the domestic arena, the Government were prepared, in principle, to settle all claims made by widowers against the United Kingdom arising out of the arrangements applicable prior to April 2001 for the payment of WMA and WPt.

On 19 December 2005, the Government informed the Court that the applicant had accepted an offer of settlement of £6402.85 on 23 November 2005.

On 6 February 2006 the Registry sent a copy of the Government’s letter to the applicant and informed him that the case would be struck off the Court’s case list unless he had any objection which he was invited to submit before 28 February 2006. The applicant did not reply.

The Court considers that an agreement has been reached between the parties (Article 39 of the Convention). It is satisfied that the settlement is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention or its Protocols (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention and Rule 62 § 3 of the Rules of Court).

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.

Michael O’Boyle Josep Casadevall 
 Registrar President

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