Kerr (AP) (Respondent) v. Department for Social Development (Appellants) ( Northern Ireland) [2004]


The decision has been reported as R1/05(SF).

In this case the claimant, Thomas Kerr, was refused a funeral payment for his deceased brother. The rules state that if there is another relative who is in equally close contact with the deceased, who is not on benefits, a funeral payment can be refused.The tribunal placed the burden on Mr Kerr to show whether the other siblings, a brother and sister, were in receipt of state benefits. His appeal failed because he was unable to do so.

The Court of Appeal

The court of appeal reversed the tribunal decision holding that although the other siblings were in equally close contact, the burden of proof as to benefits lay with the Department.

It was up to the Department to ask the appropriate questions to ascertain whether the rules for a benefit are satisfied. Normally the claimant is best placed to answer these questions but where, as in this case, the information was more readily available to the Department it was up to the Department to find it out.

The House of Lords

The law lords upheld the decision of the court of appeal.

More information

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