Unanimous Supreme Court Decides Worker Registration Scheme Unlawful

On Wednesday 19th of June 2019 an important decision of the UK’s highest court in respect of EU nationals who were required to register for the Worker Registration Scheme beyond April 2009 was handed down.

In Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Gubeladze all seven judges of the Supreme Court decided in favour of the Howells Solicitors client Ms Gubeladze.

In the period of 2009 – 2011 EU citizens from 8 Eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004 had to pay a £90 fee to register with the Worker Registration Scheme. This scheme to be given a ‘right to reside’ in the UK as a worker.

In the last two years of the Scheme, almost quarter of a million EU nationals paid to register. But the Scheme was not known to all workers, and in that time, many other Accession State workers did not register.

That group then risked being refused a right to reside on the basis that they failed to register, even though they had worked and paid taxes and national insurance in the UK. The result was that they may have been turned down for benefit, like Ms Gubeladze, or in extreme cases even faced removal or deportation from the UK.

Ms Gubeladze was turned down for a retirement benefit called State Pension Credit after she finished working in the UK, because she had not been registered with the Scheme for a few months in 2009-10.

Ms Gubeladze instructed Howells solicitors who challenged the decision that she could be refused this benefit because she had not registered in time. Howells argued that the Scheme should not have been extended after 2009, because by then it did not serve a purpose, or was not proportionate. They also argued that a three year period of residence was enough to entitle her to the benefit, whether or not she had a formal ‘right to reside’ during that period.

The Supreme Court, sitting with 7 judges because of the importance of the case, unanimously decided that:

  • It had been unlawful for the government to extend the Worker Registration Scheme beyond April 2009. The ‘small and speculative advantage’ of continuing the Scheme was ‘wholly outweighed’ by the ‘substantial and serious’ disadvantage to UK businesses and affected EU nationals, so the extension of the Scheme was disproportionate
  • An EU national must not be refused a right to reside on the basis that she failed to register with the Scheme in the period 2009-2011

Philippa Matthews an expert in the Civil Liberties department at Howells Solicitors in Sheffeild said “We are pleased the Supreme Court has unanimously found in favour of Ms Gubeladze”.
You can discover more on Howells Solicitors Civil Liberties department here.