Citizens’ Rights Watchdog Welcomes Supreme Court Appeal Decision

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The Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA) has highlighted a decision by the Supreme Court to refuse the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions’ (SSWP) request to appeal a Court of Appeal ruling in which the IMA had intervened.

This means that the Court of Appeal’s decision stands, which we welcome due to the clarity that this decision gives on key areas of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The IMA, which was set up to monitor and promote the rights of EU and EEA EFTA citizens and their family members, had intervened in the case which concerned whether the SSWP had breached the rights of an EU citizen (AT) by refusing her claim for Universal Credit.

The SSWP had said that AT was not allowed to claim Universal Credit as while she had pre-settled status, she did not have a qualifying right to reside such as being a worker and therefore was ineligible to claim this benefit.

AT successfully argued throughout the courts, including in the Upper Tribunal and Court of Appeal, that in refusing her Universal Credit, the SSWP had breached her Withdrawal Agreement rights. The courts consistently found that the protection in the Charter of Fundamental Rights to be able to live in dignified conditions applies under the Withdrawal Agreement in certain circumstances.

The IMA’s independent view was that AT was able to rely on her Charter right to live in dignified conditions and therefore was able to access Universal Credit. This was also the basis of AT’s case. The Court of Appeal agreed.

The decision of the Supreme Court now means that other citizens who have had their claims for Universal Credit put on hold for similar reasons to AT will now have to have their claims decided.

The IMA also believes that the decision has a broader impact and will continue to speak to the SSWP about how he will implement the judgment and will provide further updates when these are available.

General Counsel for the IMA, Rhys Davies said, “We intervened in this matter as it is a case of significant public importance concerning the interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement and also the continued role of the Charter following the end of the transition period. We now have clarity from the courts and can move to ensure that those within scope of the Withdrawal Agreement can fully access their rights.”

The Court of Appeal hearing was listed on 8-10 March 2023. The IMA’s skeleton argument can be read here and the judgment here.

The IMA encourages any citizen experiencing difficulties in exercising their rights to make them aware of this through their online portal.

If you are engaging in litigation in relation to your Withdrawal Agreement rights, please tell us by sending us details at litigation@IMA-citizensrights.org.uk. It helps to inform us where there may be issues with citizens accessing their rights.