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Mirga v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Samin v. Westminster City Council [2016] 1 W.L.R. 481

DATE: 27 Jan 2016

These were two conjoined appeals concerning the rights of EU nationals to claim benefits in the UK.

The Supreme Court held that:-

  1. Domestic law provisions pursuant to which a national from an EU accession state could not claim to be a “worker” without having done 12 months’ employment in the UK, and thus did not have an EU “right to reside” in the UK and did not qualify for social benefits in the UK, were compatible with the 2003 Treaty on Accession and Directive 2004/38/EC (the Citizenship Directive). Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, concerning the rights of EU citizens to move freely in the EU, did not alter this position since it was expressed to be “subject to the limitations and conditions laid down in the Treaties and by the measures adopted to give them effect”.

  2. Save perhaps in extreme circumstances, there was no requirement for specific consideration as to whether the refusal of social benefits to an EU national where they did not otherwise qualify under EU law was disproportionate in the particular circumstances of their case. Such an approach would undermine the thrust of the Citizenship Directive and would be unduly onerous on the host Member State.

Richard Drabble QC and Zoe Leventhal acted for the appellant in Mirga, instructed by the Public Law Project. Richard also acted for the appellant in Samin, instructed by Miles and Partners LLP.

Charles Banner acted for the AIRE Centre, who were granted permission to intervene by way of written and oral submissions, instructed by Ashurst LLP (with Marie Demetriou QC and Jennifer MacLeod of Brick Court Chambers).