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Legal challenges in the UK and European Courts

The Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) arrangements for Gurkha pensions have been upheld in the face of three legal challenges at Judicial Review since 2003.  The judgment in the most recent Judicial Review comprehensively rejected the argument that Gurkha pension arrangements were irrational, or unfair or discriminatory on grounds of age or race, or that changes in the immigration rules had undermined the UK MOD’s position on the calculation of pension entitlements earned before 1 July 1997.  The use of 1 July 1997 as a watershed in the pension arrangements was also upheld.  

Following the substantive dismissal of their Appeal against this judgment the litigants were refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court and pursued their case through the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).  The case went to the ECtHR in April 2014 and the Court made its ruling on 15 September 2016.  In dismissing the case the ECtHR considered that any difference in treatment had been objectively and reasonably justified.  The judgement can be found under downloads on this page.

The British Government’s approach to pension matters is shaped by the long standing principle held by successive Governments that individuals qualify for pensions according to the rules of that pension scheme at the time that an individual qualifies for their pension.  Successive Governments have also held to a general principle of not introducing improvements to public sector pension or compensation schemes retrospectively.  

The ECtHR judgment builds on the debate in Parliament on the Inquiry held by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gurkha Welfare where there was no support for changes to Gurkha pensions, and the response of the Government to the Inquiry report. 

The British Government has always sought to treat ex-Gurkhas fairly.  The Courts have once again confirmed that the Gurkha Pension Scheme is good and fair.  Gurkhas are amongst the best and the bravest and we will continue to honour and reward their commitment and sacrifice under our existing arrangements.