Brick Court Chambers barrister wins transsexual pension appeal

A Brick Court Chambers barrister has successfully appealed an earlier decision which found that a male-to-female transsexual should not receive a pension from the age of 60.


Marie-Eleni Demetriou
Marie-Eleni Demetriou

Marie-Eleni Demetriou, who was instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner William Robinson, acted for Christine Timbrell in her case against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Timbrell, who was born male in 1941 and got ­married in the 1960s, underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2000, with the knowledge and consent of her wife. Following the ­surgery they decided to ­continue living together as a married couple.

Having turned 60 in 2001 Timbrell applied to receive the state pension, but because she had not divorced her wife was unable to obtain a gender recognition certificate. This meant that in the eyes of the law she remained a man and as such would not be entitled to the state pension until she reached the age of 65.

Following the outcome of a similar case, Richards v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, which found in the claimant’s favour, Timbrell tried again to claim her pension from the age of 60. On being refused she went to the Appeal ­Tribunal, which rejected her claim, then the Administrative Appeal Chamber of the Upper Tribunal, which also rejected her claim.

Sitting in the appeal court, however, Lord Justices Thorpe, Moore-Bick and Aikens ruled that the Upper Tribunal “erred in its decision, which must be reversed”.
Jeremy Johnson of 5 Essex Court represented the secretary of state, having been instructed by the Department for Work and Pensions.