Britain’s High Court has ruled against legislation supporting a back-to-work scheme that forced people to work for free to qualify for benefits. The decision could lead to the UK government paying out over $223 million to people denied welfare payments.
Justice Beverly Lang ruled Friday that emergency laws, brought in last year to galvanize the coalition government’s back-to-work schemes, were “incompatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights. According to the judge, the legislation interferes with an individual’s right to a fair trial when applied retrospectively.
The ruling could open the door to a torrent of claimants from people who were denied benefit payments because they did not participate in the scheme. Birmingham-based public interest lawyer Phil Shiner, who fought against the scheme, told the Birmingham Mail that the ruling was a “massive blow” to the government’s “attempts to make poor people on benefits work for companies, who already make massive profits, for free.”