Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Burley [2008] EWCA Civ 376

Mr Burley was a UK national aged 87 who had worked in both Australia and the UK. He received a 100% state retirement pension from 1986 until he moved in 2004 to France. His pension was based on rights earned both in Australia and the UK under an agreement between the UK and Australia. He considered that, under European law, he was entitled to continue to receive his full UK pension at the same rate he had been receiving it prior to moving to France

Once Mr Burley moved to France, the DWP reduced his pension by 65%. While Mr Burley claimed he had previously sought, and had been given, an assurance from the DWP that the same level of pension would be paid after the move, nothing in writing relating to the alleged advice was found. It was held that the relevant European regulation applies only to rights acquired in member states and not to rights acquired in non-member states. When an individual acquires rights under an agreement between a member state and a non-member state, such rights do not continue when the individual transfers residence to another member state.

Comment: the Court of Appeal followed the wording of the legislation. Before taking action on the advice of the DWP on pensions issues, it would be wise to request such advice in writing.

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