The Employment Appeal Tribunal has dismissed the government's challenge to a ruling that transitional pension arrangements for more than 200 judges amount to unlawful age discrimination. However, after nearly three hours of deliberation, Sir Alan Wilkie today granted the lord chancellor and Ministry of Justice permission to take their case to the Court of Appeal.
Wilkie said employment tribunal judge Stuart Williams failed to address an equal pay issue and 'may well have failed to address sufficiently' claims in respect of indirect sex and race discrimination. Wilkie remitted these issues back to Williams. However, the tribunal hearing will be stayed pending the Court of Appeal outcome on the age discrimination issue.
The government has until 19 March to file grounds of appeal and skeleton arguments.
Six High Court judges, including Sir Rabinder Singh, who now sits in the Court of Appeal, were among 210 claimants who challenged the lord chancellor and the Ministry of Justice over transitional provisions regarding pension reforms.
In January last year, the employment tribunal ruled that the lord chancellor and the ministry had treated and continued to treat the claimants 'less favourably than their comparators because of their age'. Williams said the lord chancellor and MoJ had 'failed to show their treatment of the claimants to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim'.
The employment appeal tribunal hearing was joined to a case involving 5,000 firefighters over their transitional pension protections. Both judgments were published this afternoon.
Commenting on the ruling, a spokesperson for the ministry said: 'We recognise and value the important role of the judiciary. We are considering the court's findings and whether to pursue an appeal against this judgment.'
London firm Bindmans represented the six High Court judges. Solicitor Shah Qureshi, head of the firm's employment team, said: 'It is widely accepted that the judiciary needs to be more diverse and reflective of society and yet these reforms discriminate against younger judges and disproportionately impact on women and ethnic minorities.'
Employment specialist Shubha Banerjee, of Leigh Day, which represents 230 judges, said: 'Time and again we are made aware of the continuing lack of diversity in the judiciary and we read reports of low morale amongst judges and recruitment difficulties. This can be no surprise given the attacks on the judiciary from the media and unlawful actions taken by the Ministry of Justice. We call upon the new lord chancellor to attempt to buck these trends and to right the wrongs of his predecessors by abiding by this decision and seeking to resolve this dispute.'