Employment Tribunal hears Colin McEachran QC’s pension claim against Scottish government
A retired advocate is suing the Scottish government over claims that ministers discriminated against him because he worked part-time, The Herald reports.
Colin McEachran QC, 79, has taken the government to the Employment Tribunal because he himself received no pension for his work in heading up the war pension appeals body.
Mr McEachran was president of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal for Scotland (PATS) from 1995 until 2013.
During that period, he claims he did similar work for other full-time judicial figures, among them Lord McGhie, former President of the Lands Tribunal, and that while they received pensions, he did not.
Employment judge Laura Doherty was told that the PATS hears appeals from injured or ill servicemen and women whose claims for a war pension have been rejected by the Secretary of State for Defence.
Mr McEachran told the tribunal he had three decades’ experience working in the courts when he took up the PATS role.
“I had been at the bar for 30 years, I had a pretty close knowledge of how the courts work,” he said. “I had been working in personal injury cases and PATS is about injuries to ex-servicemen and women. They raised the same kind of issues.”
Calum MacNeill QC, for the Scottish ministers, argued that proceedings at PATS hearings were “less formal” than those at other tribunals and courts, with which Mr McEachran agreed.
He also agreed with Mr MacNeill’s point that PATS hearings lasted only between 60 and 90 minutes, with “no question of anyone being put on oath”.
David Inglis, the secretary of PATS, said it was “highly unlikely” Mr McEachran had dealt with the complex cases he claimed to have but that it was possible “a couple of cases” could have slipped through the net.
He added described PATS hearings as “half baked loaves of bread” as “the facts in the case, the evidence relied upon, is already altogether in a self-contained bundle”.
Douglas Fairley QC, for Mr McEachran, put it to Mr Inglis that there were a number of similarities between the work of Mr McEachran and Lord McGhie as well as another official at the Lands Tribunal.
He put it to Mr Inglis that there were several similarities between Mr McEachran work and the work of Lord McGhie and another official in the Lands Tribunal.
He said: “All three of them dealt with specialised subject matter?”
Mr Inglis agreed.
The lawyer added: “All three of them would hear evidence at an oral hearing?” Mr Inglis said: “Yes, that’s correct.”
He also agreed that all three worked with lay members to reach decisions and had fact-finding roles, another point with which the witness agreed.
The Scottish government claims that other legal officials received pensions because their roles were included in the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993.
Mr McEachran’s case has been running for six years.