This is a very interesting case. It is not about the Armed Forces pension but about a private-sector occupational pension from Innospec, where Mr Walker worked from 1980 to 2003. The company had argued that because Mr Walker’s service there predated his civil partnership his husband could not qualify for a dependant’s pension in the event of Mr Walker’s death – what we would commonly call a Post Retirement Marriage.
In the case of the Armed Forces schemes, of course, same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are now treated precisely the same as marriages and civil partnerships between men and women, providing the individual was an active member of the Armed Forces pension scheme on or after 1st October 1987. And a widowed partner now receives precisely the same entitlements whether from a same-sex or different-sex marriage or civil partnership.
Crucially, where there is now a marriage or civil partnership – same sex or male/female – the pension is calculated on the basis of the full length of the relationship including time spent together before the wedding/civil partnership. Clearly Mr Walker’s scheme did not include such a provision. But – and it’s quite a big “but” – this only applies to time spent together after October 1987.
This judgement will now have to be studied in detail to determine whether it will lead to a revision of the rules on the block date of 1st October 1987 in order to comply with the judgement. This is something we shall be looking out for – it is a very complex issue and nothing is likely to happen soon.