UK government loses appeal over ‘discriminatory’ judicial pensions scheme

David Gauke

The Lord Chancellor has lost an appeal to a ruling that transitional pension arrangements for over 200 judges amount to unlawful age discrimination.

However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal granted permission to the Lord Chancellor and Ministry of Justice to take their case to the Court of Appeal.

David Gauke and his ministry now have until 19 March to file grounds of appeal and skeleton arguments.

Six High Court judges are among the 210 claimants who challenged changes to judicial pensions implemented in April 2015, which disproportionately affected those in the younger age group, which comprises a higher number of women and ethnic minorities.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: “We recognise and value the important role of the judiciary. We are considering the court’s findings and whether to pursue an appeal against this judgment.”

Shah Qureshi, head of employment at Bindmans, representing the six High Court judges, said: “It is widely accepted that the judiciary needs to be more diverse and reflective of society and yet these reforms discriminate against younger judges and disproportionately impact on women and ethnic minorities.”

Shubha Banerjee, employment specialist at Leigh Day, which represents over 200 judges, said: “Time and again we are made aware of the continuing lack of diversity in the judiciary and we read reports of low morale amongst judges and recruitment difficulties. This can be no surprise given the attacks on the judiciary from the media and unlawful actions taken by the Ministry of Justice.

“We call upon the new Lord Chancellor to attempt to buck these trends and to right the wrongs of his predecessors by abiding by this decision and seeking to resolve this dispute.”