The appeal was held before the
before Lord Justice Simon Brown, Lord Justice Laws, and Lord Justice Rix which was heard on 17 June 2003.
Lord Justice Laws conceded that the current situation was “haphazard”, quoting the UK Minister of State Jeff Rooker who, on 13 November 2000, said:
I have already said I am not prepared to defend the logic of the present situation. It is illogical. There is no consistent pattern. It does not matter whether it is in the Commonwealth or outside it. We have arrangements with some Commonwealth countries and not with others. Indeed, there are differences among Caribbean countries. This is an historical issue and the situation has existed for years”.
Successive UK Governments have taken the view that increases to the UK state pension are based on economic conditions in the UK and that it would be unfair on UK taxpayers to pay a higher level of taxes in order to pay pension increases to people who have chosen to become resident elsewhere in the world. Motions to pay the annual increases to those UK pensioners living abroad who do not currently receive these increases have been submitted to both Houses of Parliament in June and July 1995 during the passage of the Pensions Bill, which called for uprating to be paid. All were defeated with significant majorities. The UK only uprates the State Pension where there is a legal liability to do so – this includes all UK pensioners living in the UK, the EEA, and a number of other countries where there are bilateral agreements in place relating to the UK State Pension. Whilst bilateral agreements were agreed with Australia (1953), New Zealand (1956) and Canada (1959), they did not include the uprating of the UK State Pension. Australia cancelled its bilateral agreement with the UK in 2001 because the UK Government would not uprate the State Pension for those UK pensioners who had emigrated to Australia. This was not an issue when the UK joined the EEC since bilateral agreements were in place for all of the EEC countries except Denmark. These bilateral agreements did facilitate the uprating of the UK State Pension.
The three Law Justices dismissed the appeal; leave was given to Carson to appeal to the House of Lords