The Court of Appeal has ruled that pension plans may restrict the entitlement of a surviving civil partner to a spouse’s pension to service on and after 5 December 2005. 

Same sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships since 5 December 2005. Since then, less favourable treatment of same-sex partners, in comparison with people who are married, has been a form of direct discrimination because of sexual orientation.  However, an exception was built in to UK equality legislation which allows pension plans to restrict civil partners’ access to benefits that accrued before 5 December 2005 or are payable in respect of service before that date.  The Court of Appeal has today rejected a claim that this exception contravenes EU law.

Subject to any further appeal to the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal’s decision means that pension plans may, if they wish, continue to restrict the entitlement of surviving civil partners to a spouse’s pension to service on and after 5 December 2005. The same applies to surviving same sex spouses. 

Link to judgment in Walker v Innospec:http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2015/1000.html