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Government concedes defeat in legal battle over Police Pensions

The Government has conceded defeat in a huge legal battle over police pensions, acknowledging that moving police officers to new police pension schemes, based on their age, was discriminatory.

Posted on 02 August 2019

Today’s decision does not give any guarantee for other public sector workers, or to anyone who has not brought a claim, who have seen similar changes to their pension schemes."

Kiran Daurka, employment solicitor at Leigh Day

Law firm Leigh Day which brought the legal challenge, and which represents over 13,500 police officers who were born after 1 April 1967 and who were moved onto pension schemes with reduced benefits, said that the employment tribunal would now need to assess compensation. 
Kiran Daurka a partner in the employment team at Leigh Day, representing the police officers said:

“There are a number of options for compensation, also known as remedy, that could be explored by the employment tribunal. Our main focus is to rectify the discriminatory impact of these pension scheme changes on our clients.  
“We will be writing to the Tribunal to ask for a date for a preliminary hearing at which a timetable can be set to allow the parties to work towards obtaining a remedy. 
“We would hope that this would be full redress, to put our clients back into the position they would have been in financially, had they not been subjected to discrimination. We will also be seeking compensation for injury to feelings.

“It is our current view, based upon recent Government statements, that compensation for past discrimination may only be applied to those with a legal claim in order to minimise government spending on public sector pensions.”

The legal battle over police pensions was brought following the imposition of the Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) Police Pension Scheme, which came into force on 1 April 2015. 
The new CARE scheme required officers born after 1 April 1967 to leave the two existing schemes, which for many officers provides greater benefits such as a lower contribution rates, lower retirement age and a higher final pension value, than the CARE scheme. 
In summary, those Police Officers born before 1 April 1967 and appointed before 1 April 2012 will stay in the two existing schemes, known as the 1987 and 2006 police pension schemes.

Today’s decision by the Government follows a ruling by the Supreme Court in another Leigh Day case in June 2019 that the Ministry of Justice could not appeal a Court of Appeal judgment which found that the MoJ had discriminated against Judges on the grounds of age, race and equal pay in relation to changes to their pension schemes.

This decision impacts on the imposition of pension schemes across a number of public sector roles including those put in place for teachers and doctors, which Leigh Day says it will now continue to fight in the same way it has for judges and police officers.

Ms Daurka said:

“Today’s decision does not give any guarantee for other public sector workers, or to anyone who has not brought a claim, who have seen similar changes to their pension schemes. We will continue to fight these changes through the courts to show that changes to public sector pension schemes for teachers and for NHS doctors have also been discriminatory.”