Liz Truss to appeal judicial pensions discrimination ruling

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By Thomas Connelly on

Just a week after she handed High Court and Court of Appeal judges an 11% pay increase

The Lord Chancellor will appeal an employment tribunal ruling which found that changes to the judicial pensions scheme amounted to unlawful discrimination.

Refusing to accept the decision, a grounds of appeal document — drafted on behalf of Truss and the government by counsel — claims that the tribunal “erred” in its approach to the case and failed to consider the government’s “material factor defence”.

The new pensions set-up means that judges under a certain age are as much as £25,000 worse off than their more experienced colleagues. This is because older judges are still considered under the older pensions scheme, which was more generous.

Clearly feeling hard done by, 210 judges, led by Master McCloud, argued that the plans directly discriminated against them based on their age. In addition to this, others claimed indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex and race, because the younger end of the judiciary tends to be the more diverse.

While the employment tribunal ruled in their favour, it would appear Truss isn’t going down without a fight. Speaking to Legal Cheek, Shah Qureshi — who is an employment specialist at London outfit Bindmans and is representing the judges — said:

We are disappointed that the government has decided to appeal what we view as a clear and precise judgment. It would have been better served to address the discriminatory impact of these reforms on younger judges, ethnic minorities and women.

When the case was heard at first instance, it was heard by a retired judge to ensure there was no conflict of interest. Legal Cheek understands that the Employment Appeals Tribunal may adopt the same technique.

The decision to appeal comes just a week after Legal Cheek revealed that Truss had upped High Court and Court of Appeal judges’ salaries by 11%. Targeting younger members of the judiciary with a “non-pensionable and taxable” bonus, the decision means that a High Court judge will earn £199,542 this year, while their Court of Appeal counterparts will pocket a hefty £227,211.

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