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18 January 2017

MoJ discriminates against judges

The Employment Tribunal has upheld the claims of over 200 judges for unlawful age, race and sex discrimination and equal pay against the Lord Chancellor and the Ministry of Justice in relation to changes made to their pension entitlements.  

The Tribunal held that the Lord Chancellor and the Ministry of Justice had discriminated against younger judges, a significant number of whom were female and/or from minority ethnic groups, by requiring them to leave the Judicial Pension Scheme in April 2015, whilst allowing older judges to remain in that Scheme, and that this discrimination could not be justified. 

The Tribunal found that the changes caused younger judges to suffer a disproportionate loss to their pensions purely because they were younger. 

You can find the Tribunal decision here.

The legal team were Shubha Banerjee and Chris Benson from Leigh Day and Andrew Short QC and Naomi Ling from Outer Temple Chambers. 
Shubha Banerjee said:

This is a great victory for our clients, many of whom sit alongside older judges who were appointed some years after them but who are, in effect, paid more purely because they are older.

“The fact that there is a significant number of female and BME judges in the younger group simply compounds the unfairness of the changes that were made to judicial pensions.

”According to Judicial Office Statistics, about one third of all judges in England and Wales last year were female, and only 7 per cent described themselves as from a black or other minority ethnic background.”

While the decision could have ramifications for other public sector groups, such as police officers, teachers, firefighters and prison officers, who have been subjected to similar negative changes to their pensions, the key lesson to be learned from this decision, is the necessity to carry out  a thorough equality impact assessment - and to act upon its findings - before making major structural changes to any reward system, including that realting to pensions. 

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