The mandatory retirement age for judges, magistrates and coroners is to be raised from 70 to 75, pending parliamentary approval, the Ministry of Justice has announced.
In a response to a consultation over the mandatory retirement age, which ran from July to October last year, the MoJ noted that the vast majority of the 1,000 respondents had been in favour of a rise, but there had been some disagreement over whether it should be to age 72 or 75.
The latter was chosen “to enable our courts and tribunals to retain for longer the expertise of experienced judicial office holders and to attract a greater number of talented and diverse applicants”, the ministry said.
Most respondents were also said to have welcomed the impact the increase would have on pension accrual.
In order to implement its decision, the MoJ will scrap the current differentiation between salaried judges and fee-paid judicial office holders with respect to their “sitting in retirement”, the policy which allows salaried judges to retire and draw their pension while continuing to sit as fee-paid judges “if there is a business need to do so”.
If left unchanged, it was feared this policy might give rise to a form of discrimination, translating “as automatic early access to pension with no other change for fee-paid [judicial office holders]”.
To ensure equitable treatment, the MoJ will erect a new kind of office to which both types of judicial office holder will be able to apply on retirement.
“The creation of a bespoke and distinct office in which judicial office holders — whether previously salaried or fee-paid — will sit in retirement will provide a clearer basis on which to provide for appropriate, non-discriminatory pension provision,” the MoJ’s response stated.
Benjamin Mercer is a reporter at FTAdviser's sister publication Pensions Expert