Defined BenefitJun 25 2020

Judges eye pensions windfall as govt consults on rules

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Judges eye pensions windfall as govt consults on rules
ByMaria Espadinha

The Ministry of Justice is consulting on rule changes for the Fee-Paid Judicial Pension Scheme in response to a string of court cases, which could see some 4.600 judges receive backdated pension contributions.

The government yesterday (June 24) published a consultation to allow fee-paid judges become members of the scheme prior to 2000, meaning historic service can be accrued and pension benefits paid.

Added to this the Ministry of Justice will amend the membership criteria to reflect the Miller judgment handed down by the Supreme Court at the end of last year, which allowed judges to bring claims outside of current time restrictions.

The consultation is running until September 18, and the government anticipates that the amended regulations could come into force in 2022.

After that all fee-paid judges eligible for a revised pension under the scheme will be contacted by the department.

In the interim, fee-paid judges who consider they have a claim are invited to contact the department’s judicial claims team if they haven’t already done so, the Ministry of Justice stated.

Court cases

The Miller case saw a group of judges - who had part-time and full-time salaried appointments – seeking to reclaim their pension rights outside of time restrictions.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court where it was held the judges had been wrongly denied their pensions after they did not make a claim to an employment tribunal within three months of completing their part-time work.

Until the decision judges who held both fee-paid and salaried appointments had time restrictions on when they could claim their pension rights.

The Fee-Paid Judicial Pension Scheme commenced in April 2017 as a result of the case, but its pension benefits only accrue for fee-paid judicial service on or after April 2000, the date by which the UK was required to transpose the EU Part-Time Work Directive into domestic law.

In a further judgement in November 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union in the case of O’Brien v Ministry of Justice concluded that part-time work undertaken before the deadline for transposing the directive must be taken into account for the purposes of calculating a retirement pension.

As a result of the two court cases there are approximately 4,600 judges who have new or incremental claims for fee-paid pension scheme eligibility.

The judicial claims team is in the process of agreeing service records with these judges, and has started making payments in lieu of pension to retired judges in this cohort, including lump-sum arrears payments where appropriate.

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