JSA SANCTIONS DECLARED UNLAWFUL BY THE HIGH COURT

Date Published : 7th August , 2012

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 The High Court decision on August  6th 2012  that sanctions  imposed by the DWP  upon a Jobseeker  cutting his money by 26 weeks was unlawful means that many thousands of
unemployed people will be entitled to bring claims to recover money taken from
them. (1)

Following this judgment there now will be at least a 1 month opportunity to challenge any sanction imposed on JSA  by Jobcentre Plus  where insufficient information  or reasons have been supplied to a claimant. An appeal should be commenced by  writing to the Jobcentre Plus which imposed the sanction.

There may also be many other  grounds of appeal to challenge sanctions in the future. Administrative  decisions made by the DWP have to be reasonable in law, considering all
relevant facts, disregarding irrelevant facts and not acting perversely or  irrationally (what are known as the ‘Wednesbury principles’ (2). Thus, for  example, decisions to take away benefits from a claimant for up to 26 weeks may  be unlawful as unreasonable and being not proportional.

Indeed, following this ruling  this period may actually be as much as 3  months to challenge any sanction imposed since 2009, using the remedy of  judicial review through the High Court – this is a further point the High Court  needs to clarify.

Furthermore, a statement made by Welfare  Minister, Lord Freud in Parliament during the debate on welfare reform on  January 25th he stated that all  decisions to sanction should involve proper consideration of the facts and that  :

“decision-makers will have to  consider all relevant matters raised by the claimant within a particular time period, including information about a claimant’s health condition and financial  circumstances”

needs to be brought to the attention of a number of branches of Jobcentre Plus.

 

(1)http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/reilly-wilson-sec-state-work-pensions.pdf  ; see also: “Unpaid work scheme ruling at High Court could prompt wave of benefit  rebates” The Guardian August 6th 2012   http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/06/unpaid-work-scheme-benefits-rebate?CMP=twt_fd

 

(2)See Associated Provincial Picture Houses v Wednesbury Corporation  [1948] 1 KB 223 and the judgment of Lord Greene, Master of the Rolls.

 

 

 


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