Govt announces pension changes for part-time judges following ruling

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has set out its proposed remedy to part-time judges’ pensions, after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that the way they were calculated was discriminatory.

The case centred around whether periods of service as a part-time judge prior to the Part Time Workers Directive, which took effect in January 2000, should be taken into account in calculating the amount of pension to be paid on retirement.

MOJ lost the case, known as O’Brien v MOJ, after the CJEU found in favour of O’Brien and ruled that the way pensions were calculated for part-time judges pre-2000 was discriminatory and affected judges were entitled to pension payments.

To rectify the issues, MOJ has proposed that judges appointed on or after 31 March 1995 will have their existing pension entitlements recalculated to include service between their appointment date and 6 April 2000.

Affected judges who were appointed before March 1995 would have two choices, they could have pro-rate benefits, calculated with reference to the pension benefit entitlement of the appropriate salaried judge, but scaled by the fee-paid judge’s reckonable service as a proportion of qualifying service, in line with the pro-rata principle.

Alternatively, they can transfer reckonable service to the Fee-paid Judicial Pension Scheme 2017 (FPJPS), the part-time equivalent of the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993 (JUPRA).

The government report stated: “The choice that is most beneficial for a given judge will depend on his or her personal circumstances, and the value that he or she places of different types of benefit entitlement.

“Judges whose service began before 31 March 1995 and whose remedy is referable to a nonjudicial pension scheme by analogy with the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme will be treated in the same way as those fee-paid judges in the “reason why/which pension” tribunals and will have their pension benefits converted to benefits in FPJPS on 31 March 1995 if the relevant salaried judge was able to join JUPRA at that date.”

The CJEU ruling came after a 13-year long court battle, which concluded on 7 November 2018.

The government’s proposals were submitted to the Central London Employment Tribunal.

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