New pension scheme for fee-paid judges delayed

Topics: Equality and diversity,Government & politics,Judicial

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A new pension scheme for fee-paid judges, established by the government after the Supreme Court backed a former part-time recorder's claim to a full pension, has been delayed. 

In 2013 the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled former part-time recorder Dermod O’Brien was entitled to a full pension. It followed a Supreme Court judgment earlier that year that part-time judges are ‘workers’ for the purpose of the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.

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In a note issued yesterday, the ministry said planned implementation of the new scheme by 31 March was ‘no longer feasible’. It ‘anticipates’ the scheme will be implemented by 1 December.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: ‘A complex period of litigation to test our proposals in court ended last month, which has resulted in a later implementation date for the scheme. However, the payments will be backdated.

‘As with the rest of the public service, we are committed to providing an affordable, flexible, sustainable and fair pension scheme, whilst safeguarding judicial independence.’

The scheme will mirror a current scheme for salaried judges, established by the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993 as far as possible, on a pro-rata basis.

In a response to a previous consultation on the scheme, the ministry said it did not consider that any fee-paid judges, of any background, would be treated less favourably than their salaried counterparts.

It stated: ‘The department takes seriously its legal duties in respect of equalities and equal opportunities, and is committed to ensuring no less favourable treatment based on background. The department will continue to monitor this in respect of the implementation of the [scheme].’

One judge responding to the consultation said the scheme ‘clearly’ had potential equalities impacts, as there was a ‘far better representation of younger judges, women and those from the BME community in the fee-paid judiciary in comparison with the salaried judiciary (and in particular the senior salaried judiciary)’.

The ministry’s latest note states that it is ‘committed’ to conducting a consultation on the draft regulations prior to them being laid in parliament. However it is ‘likely’ that the regulations will not be debated until the autumn.

Until the scheme is introduced, the ministry will continue to offer interim payments to eligible fee-paid judicial office-holders.

Readers' comments (9)

  • Why don't these civil servants just have to provide for their own retirement (just like the rest of us)?

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  • I am not sure that I agree with David Crawford. I was a member of the fee paid judiciary (1978-1999) and never gave it a second thought but if the aim is to attract the best candidates (at least at District Judge Level) it is not unreasonable for the package to be made as attractive as possible.
    In my day (and at the age I was then) it was not given a second thought except by those who went into it full time.

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  • And, Neil, I suspect that you, as did most then and later, suffered a sharp drop in income. Full time appointee 1986-2012.

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  • I do hope the multi millionaire barristers who became High Court Judges get properly looked after in their retirement. I for one am willing to pay an extra few per cent income tax to make sure they are well treated.

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  • The new scheme is not as generous being based on average salary not final salary. It discriminates because older fee paid judges can go into the old more generous pension scheme.

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  • But where do you stop? Why not pay their private health insurance premiums, golf club subscriptions, motor insurance, their mortgages, council tax...? No one made them take theses jobs. As Cicero said what starts as a privilege, becomes an expectation and ends up as a dependency

    They state simply cannot afford all this largess.

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  • PS THE state, not THEY state...Doh, Homer! as my son would say.

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  • David, when judicial salary levels were considered by the SSRB, it took the value of the pension into account when advising on the rate of pay. So a notional contribution (it's now an actual one) was made.

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  • Thanks for that, Richard, but my point is, is that right? Why does everyone simply not get paid a salary and they have to provide their own pensions, etc? Why should my daughter, say, have to provide for her own pension, but judges do not? I have had to make contributions to a pension scheme since the age of 30. Why was I not paid a salary which included a pension? I have a friend who wisely made pension contributions to a private plan. Unwisely he paid them to Equitable Life. And small law firms are no longer worth anything, so the capital value of that was nil, largely due to run-off liabilities. The nanny state is just too nanny for my liking with the result that everyone expects it to provide from the cradle to the grave. Pathetic.

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