Government to appeal pension cuts ruling

Government to appeal pension cuts ruling

The Lord Chancellor has appeared in the Court of Appeal this morning (5 November) in an attempt to overturn a decision from January which had found pension cuts to a group of judges had been discriminatory.

The appeal is being made by the Lord Chancellor and the Ministry of Justice after the judges had their claim backed by the employment appeal tribunal in January. This had followed their initial successful tribunal case in November 2016.

The case centres on a group of 210 judges, who argue changes made to judges’ pensions in 2015 were illegitimate.

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The claimants were all members of the JPS, which closed on 31 March 2015. Its members were automatically transferred to the National Judicial Pension Scheme (NJPS) on 1 April 2015.

Allison Cook, partner at law firm VWV, said transitional provisions had been put in place and, depending on age, some judges were allowed to remain members of the JPS until retirement or until the end of a period of 10 years of tapered protection.

The members transferred to the NJPS without the benefit of transitional protection and subsequently brought claims against their employer and the government departments responsible for the changes.

The judges argued the transitional arrangements put in place between the old and new judges’ pension were discriminating against age.

As women and ethnically diverse people in the judicial system tend to be younger, they also claimed there was indirect discrimination based on gender and race.

The government had argued the transitional protection arrangements were a "proportionate means of achieving their legitimate aim" of protecting those closest to retirement from the financial effects of pension reform and that any differences in treatment were justified and lawful.

But the employment appeal tribunal judge found while the changes made by the government had a legitimate purpose they were not justifiable because there are other ways in which the savings could have been achieved. As such the changes were not proportionate.

Ms Cook said: "The government will be required to produce evidence to demonstrate the level of scrutiny carried out was sufficient when considering whether there were any less discriminatory measures they could have taken to meet its legitimate aims."

The case, which will see the government seek to present an additional 350 pages of documents, is due to be heard over the next five days.

Venilia Batista Amorim is a freelance writer for FTAdviser