A WOMAN has renewed her fight for greater legal recognition for unmarried couples who suffer bereavement.

Jakki Smith, who lost her partner of 16 years in October 2011, argues that her inability to claim bereavement damages was a breach of her human rights.

She said that her exclusion from those entitled to make such a claim discriminates against her unlawfully on the ground of her status as an unmarried person.

The NHS worker wants a declaration against the Secretary of State for Justice and a sum equivalent to the amount she would have received if she had qualified - £11,800.

Ms Smith, of Chorley, discovered she was not entitled to the sum, which is paid out if a person dies as a result of negligence - but only to spouses or civil partners - after 66-year-old John Bulloch died after an infection was missed.

Mr Bulloch underwent the removal of a benign tumour on his right foot in August 2011 and fell ill while on holiday in Turkey.

Last year, Mr Justice Edis ruled there was no incompatibility between the 1976 Fatal Accidents Act and Ms Smith's Convention rights and said he had no power to intervene - although he added that the current law was in need of reform.

At the Court of Appeal, Ms Smith's QC, Vikram Sachdeva, said the judge's conclusion was "clearly reached with regret".

He told the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice McCombe and Sir Patrick Elias that it was implicitly conceded that there was no lawful justification for withholding bereavement damages from people who had lived with their partners for at least two years.

That was consistent with the 2009 government's intention to amend the law, with the only expressed reason why the 2011 government failed to bring the draft Bill into force being that it was not a key priority.

He said that the critical issue in the contested appeal was whether or not bereavement damages available under the 1976 Act were more than tenuously linked to family life protected under Article 8.

Ms Smith, who was not in court in London, has said: ''Bereavement damages are recognition of the pain and grief caused by the death of a partner and I felt that same pain and grief, with or without a marriage certificate.

''I was married twice and divorced twice and I just felt it was wrong that those relationships would have been recognised even though they were much shorter, but not ours."