A solicitor judge unhappy with pension reforms has warned lawyer colleagues to ‘think carefully’ before ‘burning their bridges’ in private practice to join the bench.

In a letter to the Gazette published today the judge, whose name is withheld on request, says they ‘no longer feel bound by the request made by the judiciary to keep silent on the topic [of judicial pensions] particularly as prospective judges may be taking life-changing decisions without full possession of the facts’.

The judge voices dismay at the effect on morale of ‘unilateral’ changes to pensions on judges who took up ‘what was supposed to be a lifetime achievement severing their ties with private practice’.

Judicial pension scheme members will see their contributions rise by an average of 3.2% points of pay over the three years that began on 1 April. Further rises will take effect in 2013 and 2014, and a new scheme will be introduced in 2015.

The new scheme will incorporate a move to a less advantageous ‘career average’ method of calculating benefits from the present final salary method, based on an average of judges’ earnings each year until they leave or retire.