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High Court judges take legal action against Liz Truss over pension discrimination

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Lord Chancellor’s week goes from bad to worse

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In what is believed to be an unprecedented move, six serving High Court judges are taking the Lord Chancellor to court. They claim they are being discriminated against on the grounds of their age.

In addition, members of the group will also claim that Truss — who has only held the Lord Chancellor role since July — were discriminated against on the grounds of ethnicity and sex.

According to legal affairs journalist Joshua Rozenberg QC, who broke the story yesterday on Facebook, the claims relate “to reduced benefits the judges can expect to receive under a new judicial pension scheme introduced last year.”

While some judges were allowed to stick with the old scheme, others — including the six bringing the legal action — were automatically enrolled onto the new pension arrangement, because they were under a certain age. Continuing, Rozenberg QC told his social media following:

A two-week hearing has been arranged before a tribunal judge who is not affected by the new pension arrangements. There could be further hearings before appeal judges.

The six High Court judges brining the action are Sir Nicholas Mostyn, 59, Sir Roderick Newton, 58, Sir Philip Moor, 57, Dame Lucy Theis, 55, Sir Richard Arnold, 55 and Sir Rabinder Singh, 52. A two-week long hearing is due to get underway next week and will be heard, rather sensibly, by a judge who is not affected by the new setup.

Shah Qureshi, head of employment at Bindmans LLP, said:

We can confirm that we act for a small group of judges in relation to age, race and sex discrimination issues arising out of the new judicial pension scheme. As this matter is currently awaiting judicial determination we are unable to comment further.

The news comes after Truss came under heavy criticism for her weak response to the press abuse faced by three High Court judges involved in the Brexit legal challenge.

Today, Lord Falconer QC — a former Lord Chancellor himself — called for Truss to be replaced. Penning a letter for The Times, Falconer QC claimed that the judiciary had lost its “constitutional protector”, and that Truss should “be replaced by someone willing and brave enough to do the job”. Until this happens, says his Lordship, “the judges should rightly fear for their independence”.