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Government loses employment tribunal appeal over judges’ pension scheme

The Justice Secretary and the Ministry of Justice failed to overturn a ruling in favour of judges who brought age discrimination claims.

The Government has lost the latest round of an employment tribunal battle with more than 200 judges over a “highly disadvantageous” pension scheme.

A year ago, members of the judiciary – including six High Court judges in their 50s – brought a successful action at the Central London Employment Tribunal.

Age discrimination claims were brought by a total of 210 serving judges against the Justice Secretary and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

After a ruling in the judges’ favour, the Justice Secretary and MoJ brought a challenge at the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

In a decision announced on Monday, Sir Alan Wilkie dismissed their appeals.

Ministry of Justice

The employment tribunal action centred on a new judicial pension scheme that came into force in April 2015, which provides judges with significantly less valuable retirement benefits than their former pension scheme.

Transitional provisions protect older judges, but the claimants, who are younger judges, claimed discrimination because they have been treated less favourably on the ground of their age.

In a ruling published in January last year, the employment tribunal said that “by reason of the transitional provisions” contained in the Judicial Pensions Regulations 2015, the Government “have treated and continue to treat the claimants less favourably than their comparators because of their age”.

The tribunal ruled that the Justice Secretary and the MoJ “have failed to show their treatment of the claimants to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.

In the latest decision, Sir Alan said the employment tribunal did not “err in law”, and was “entitled to conclude” that the Justice Secretary and MoJ “had failed to justify the discriminatory effect of the transitional provisions”.

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