The Supreme Court found that the UK violated the residence rights of hundreds of thousands of Europeans from A8 countries

On 19 June 2019, The Supreme Court dismissed the Home Office’s appeal in the case of Gubeladze [2019] UKSC 31. This decision affects the interests of a large number of EU citizens from the so-called “A8” countries, who joined the European Union in 2004. These include the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

When new countries join the EU, self-employed workers from these countries have direct access to the labour market in other member-countries. However, the same does not apply to employed workers or employees. By law, existing EU members may impose restrictions on those employees, called “transitional arrangements”, for a maximum of seven years if such restrictive measures are reasonable and proportionate by EU laws.

In 2004, eight new countries joined the EU. For citizens from these countries, the UK has introduced a special Worker Registration Scheme (WRS). Initially, this scheme was meant to exist for five years. However, in 2009 the government decided to extend it for another two years.

The controversial point in the Gubeladze case was not whether it was legal to introduce “transitional arrangements” as a whole, but whether it was legal to introduce the WRS. Ms Gubeladze claimed that the WRS requirements were unjustified and imposed too heavy a burden on EU citizens and their employers.

The fee to register in WRS was £90. Failure to comply with its requirements for employers would amount to a criminal offense. Employees, who failed to register with WRS, could experience problems with the payment of benefits, obtaining permanent residence status and, ultimately, the right to obtain British citizenship. According to the latest data, 33% of employees did not meet the requirements for registration with WFS. It is very likely that in most cases it happened accidentally.

The Supreme Court ruled out that extension of the WFS program in 2009 for additional two years was illegal and unlawful.

In connection to this decision, those citizens of A8 countries who paid £90 for registration between 2009 and 2011 could theoretically request a refund. Just to remind you, that employees had to pay an extra £90 each time when they changed the place of work. Up until now, there was no official statement from the government about potential refunds. Those EU citizens who were denied permanent residency status due to non-compliance with WFS rules between 2009 and 2011, should seek to have their decisions reconsidered. EU citizens who were denied British citizenship due to non-compliance with WRS between 2009 and 2011, when for example failing to meet residency or good character requirements, should also seek legal advice in terms of having their adverse decisions reviewed.

As in the case of Ms Gubeladze, those pensioners who were denied benefits and permanent residence status due to non-compliance with WRS rules from 2009 to 2011 should ask for a review of these decisions and seek legal assistance to determine whether they have right to receive payments.


Posted on Jun 18, 2019.

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