Govt loses appeal against judges pension scheme; Firefighters’ battle continues

The government has lost an Employment Appeal Tribunal against members of the judges pension scheme who have claimed that cuts to their income are discriminatory.

During an Employment Appeal Tribunal hearing yesterday, the government lost its case against 210 judges who challenged changes to their judicial pensions. This confirmed that the new judges’ pension scheme that was brought into force in April 2015 and transitional arrangements that followed were discriminatory of age.

In December 2017, the Employment Tribunal held that the Ministry of Justice and the Lord Chancellor 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.

The government appealed this decision, but was refused in the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

A MoJ spokesperson 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.”

The ruling from the Employment Appeal Tribunal is also positive news for firefighters, as a case concerning their pensions was heard alongside the judges’ appeal case. During the initial Employment Tribunal on firefighters’ pensions, it was ruled that changes to their pensions were not discriminatory, despite the same tribunal ruling in favour of the judges.

Due to overlapping issues in both cases the Employment Appeal Tribunal demanded that the cases be heard together. As a result of its decision, the firefighters case can now return to the Employment Tribunal.

In a circular issued to members, The Fire Brigades Union said the Employment Tribunal will have to weigh up properly the government’s alleged need to implement the 2015 transitional arrangements against the damage that they did to firefighters who missed out on protection just because of their age.

“The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with our argument that the Employment Tribunal had to conduct this balancing exercise and failed to do so,” the FBU said.

As the judges initially won their case in the Employment Tribunal, they do not need to go back to the Employment Tribunal. However, the FBU said the government intends to appeal both cases.

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