Judges discriminated against in judicial pension scheme reforms

Six High Court judges have succeeded in their claims against the Ministry of Justice about the introduction of the judicial pension scheme reforms. All six judges alleged that they had been discriminated against on the grounds of age, and two claimants also alleged that they had been discriminated on the grounds of sex and race respectively. The changes at the heart of the complaints were to the judicial pension scheme and affect more than 200 judges.
A summary of the two pension schemes is provided below:

Old scheme (before 2012) Current scheme
  • No employment contributions
  • Income of a 40th of the judge’s final salary multiplied by that judge’s length of service
  • Final lump sum on retirement after the age of 65 two and a quarter times the judge’s annual rate
  • Contribution rates due to rise to 8% of pensionable pay
  • Income of 43rd of the judge’s final pensionable pay per year of service
  • No final lump sum payment

In 2015, as part of transitionary arrangements, older judges were permitted to keep more generous pension arrangements (depending on their age, they either remained in the old scheme or remained in the old scheme for an extended period). At the same time, their younger colleagues were required to transition straight into the current, less generous, pension scheme.
The Employment Tribunal found that the Ministry of Justice and the Lord Chancellor discriminated against the younger judges and that the discrimination could not be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The Tribunal noted that the younger judges compelled to join the scheme were the worst affected.
Broader concerns have been expressed about individuals being dissuaded from applying for judicial positions because of issues over remuneration and other terms and conditions.

Michelle Lamb

About Michelle Lamb

Michelle is a senior associate in the Employment team. She advises public and private employers on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious employment law, but specializes in TUPE, change programs, employment aspects of corporate transactions and discrimination complaints. Michelle regularly procures advice from other jurisdictions to support Dentons' multinational client base.

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