A woman has won the right to her receive her late partner’s military pension, after a legal battle that lasted several years.
Jane Langford had been in a relationship with Air Commodore Christopher Green for 15 years when he died suddenly in 2011.
Ordinarily, she would have been entitled to a bereavement grant and her late partner’s military pension until her own death, as laid out in the armed forces scheme.
However, she had never divorced her former husband, although they had been separated for 17 years.
This technicality meant she was not entitled to receive her late partner’s pension.
Ms Langford struggled financially without the income and had to rent out part of her home.
In 2015, she took legal action claiming the rule excluding her from the pension was “unlawfully discriminatory”. She lost her case in the High Court.
However, the Court of Appeal has now overturned that decision. Lord Justice McCombe described the “broad exclusionary rule” as “a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.
He added: “It is a legitimate aim of the scheme to achieve parity of treatment between married and unmarried partners of scheme members. But such parity is in reality achieved not by imposing restrictions based on a partner’s marital status, but by requiring the demonstration of a substantial, exclusive and financially dependent relationship in practice.”
The ruling could have far reaching consequences across the public sector. The rule, which was found to be unlawful, also features in most public sector schemes such as the police, fire service, NHS and education.
Ms Langford told the BBC: “I’m so pleased if it can benefit others in a similar situation. I wouldn’t like to see anybody treated the way I was treated.”
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