Reform of the judicial pension scheme will threaten the UK’s position as a centre for high-quality dispute resolution, a City lobby group warned this week.
TheCityUK, which promotes London around the world, said including the judiciary in a one-size-fits-all plan for civil service pensions would have unintended consequences for the UK’s £3bn share of the international legal services market.
Under the government’s reforms, the scheme pension age will rise from 65 to 68 in 2015 and benefits will be based on career average rather than final salary.
Judges’ contributions to their pensions were raised in April this year, the first of a series of annual increases to 2015.
Richard Normington, senior manager for international strategy at TheCityUK, said there was a danger that reduced pension prospects would deter top-flight lawyers from joining the judiciary.
He added: ‘Creating a future rank of judges from the second tier of practitioners would diminish the respect in which the judiciary is held, and business will question the value of work conducted in London.’
Normington said international firms turn to London and English law in preference to other venues and jurisdictions because of the expertise of the judiciary and the business-minded application of the law.
Bringing the judiciary into the ordinary civil service pension scheme, he warned, would undermine the perception that judges are independent from the government.
The issue of judicial pensions has stirred controversy since the redesign of the scheme was outlined in February.