The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in David Collingborn v the UK and Ian Dickie v the UK has held that the different treatment between widows and widowers, in respect to the rules for the entitlement to inheritance of an additional state pension, was reasonable and objectively justifiable.

In the case the widowers argued that the denial of inherited state additional pension solely on the basis of sex was unfair and unjustified.

The ECHR accepted that there was a difference in treatment based on sex but that the European Convention of Human Rights did not prohibit different treatment if it is to correct a “factual inequality”. The ECHR commented that the UK Government had referred to studies and statistics which showed that the position of older women in British society is still a special one, and that many of them have expected to rely on their husband’s income throughout their lives. There was no evidence that men were similarly disadvantaged and in need of special financial help.

The ECHR concluded that the difference in treatment was reasonably and objectively justified and the applicants had therefore not suffered discrimination in the enjoyment of their property rights.