Claims of over 200 judges that they were discriminated against on the grounds of age, race, sex and equal pay in relation to changes made to their pensions by the Ministry of Justice have been upheld.
The claims were heard at the London Central Employment Tribunal today, 16 January, against the Lord Chancellor and the Ministry of Justice.
The judgment held that both had discriminated against younger judges by requiring them to leave the Judicial Pension Scheme in April 2015, whilst allowing older judges to remain in the scheme, and that this discrimination could not be justified.
A two week hearing was initially held in November 2016, in which 204 judges were represented at the London Central Employment Tribunal. The judges cover all disciplines and jurisdictions and include employment judges, circuit judges, district judges, sheriffs and immigration judges.
Partner at law firm Leigh Day, which represented the judges, Shubha Banerjee said: “This is a great victory for our clients, many of whom sit alongside older judges who were appointed some years after them but who are, in effect, paid more purely because they are older. The fact that there is a significant number of female and BME judges in the younger group simply compounds the unfairness of the changes that were made to judicial pensions.
”According to Judicial Office Statistics, about one third of all judges in England and Wales last year were female, and only 7 per cent described themselves as from a black or other minority ethnic background.”
The Tribunal found that the changes caused younger judges to suffer a disproportionate loss to their pensions purely because they were younger.
The decision could have ramifications for other public sector groups, such as police officers, teachers, firefighters and prison officers, who have been subjected to similar negative changes to their pensions. In particular, the Fire Brigades Union has mounted a legal challenge against the government over similar changes to their pensions.
The introduction of the 2015 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme saw thousands of younger firefighters transferred into a scheme where they have to work until the age of 60, pay more in contributions and work for longer than they would have in the old scheme, which the FBU claims is “textbook” discrimination. A decision is still to be made in this case.