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Changes to legislation will restore to certain Jobseekers Allowance claimants their right to a fair trial

13 March 2020

In a new report published today, the UK Parliament's Human Rights Committee welcomes the Government's Draft Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013 (Remedial) Order 2019, which will ensure that the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013 (“2013 Act”) is compatible with the right to a fair trial.

Why current law is incompatible with Human Rights law

Following the introduction of regulations in 2011, many Jobseekers Allowance claimants (“JSA claimants”) were referred to certain ‘back to work' employment schemes. Sanctions were imposed on some claimants for non-compliance with the regulations.

The Government's ‘back to work' schemes were challenged by various claimants, including a graduate who had to undertake an unpaid work placement at Poundland and a HGV driver who had to undertake unpaid work collecting and renovating furniture. Both had been forced to participate in the scheme in order to continue receiving benefits.

The claimants won their case. The Court of Appeal held that the regulations were unlawful as the description of the schemes and the notices given to the claimants were both insufficiently clear. This ruling meant that anyone sanctioned and stripped of benefits under these Regulations could potentially claim these back from the Government.

To avoid having to repay the sanctions, the Government enacted emergency retrospective legislation – the 2013 Act.

The 2013 Act was used to remove a ground of appeal from JSA claimants who had originally lodged appeals against sanctions that had been made against them.  However, in 2016 the Court of Appeal declared that this retrospective legislation was not compatible with Article 6(1) of the ECHR, the right to a fair trial, as it interfered with pending legal proceedings of claimants who had lodged appeals against their sanctions before the 2013 Act came into force.

Purpose of Remedial Order

In response to the declaration of incompatibility made by the Court of Appeal, the Government laid this draft Remedial Order to remedy the human rights incompatibility in the 2013 Act.

The Committee is pleased that the draft Remedial Order remedies the incompatibility of the legislation with the right to a fair trial for certain JSA claimants and recommends that it should be approved by the House.

Further information

Image: [1] Hammerton v United Kingdom 2016 (Application No. 6287/10).