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Pension scheme a retention 'time bomb' says country's top judge

Lawyers representing judges against pension reforms, calls on Government to drop appeal of employment tribunal decision after lord chief justice warns of retention 'time bomb'

Posted on 19 July 2017

Lawyers representing over 200 judges have urged the Government to scrap reforms to judges pensions after the lord chief justice warned that the reforms, which the employment tribunal found were discriminatory, could detonate a retention 'time bomb’.

Shubha Banerjee from the employment team at Leigh Day, who is representing 204 of the judges, urged the Government to drop its appeal to the judgment that the MoJ 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 that Scheme.

According to the Law Society Gazette, in evidence to the Review Body on Senior Salaries, which advises the Government, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said that several members of the higher judiciary have publicly stated they will refuse to join the 2015 Judicial Pension Scheme and leave the judiciary once their transitional protection ends.

The highest Judge in the Country confirmed that 34 of the 150 judges are retiring in 2016-17, more than double the number that have retired in previous years.

More than 100 new judges could be needed in the next five years. Despite trying to recruit 25 High Court judges in January 2017, by October the 108-strong High Court cohort will be down 22 judges before anyone is appointed from the January competition.

Shubha Banerjee said: “There is now clear evidence that these pensions reforms are dissuading lawyers from becoming judges. The Tribunal found that the changes to the pensions scheme were unlawful discrimination which caused younger judges, including a significant number of female and BME judges, to suffer a disproportionate loss to their pensions purely because of their age.

“If we want to retain one of the most admired legal systems in the world that is representative of this country then the Government need to drop its appeal and should afford all judges the same pensions rights.”