The public showdown between judges and the lord chancellor over new pension arrangements is drawing to a close today as an employment tribunal began hearing closing submissions – including a warning of the knock-on effect of finding for the claimants.
Six High Court judges are among 210 claimants challenging the lord chancellor and Ministry of Justice over their pension arrangements.
On day seven of the hearing in London, Martin Chamberlain QC of Brick Court, for the lord chancellor and ministry, told the tribunal that it was important to ‘separate out’ the effect of the pension reform change from the effect of the transitional provisions.
Chamberlain said: ‘No one is complaining about the change itself, what they are complaining about are the transitional provisions. They are what are said to be discriminatory. They are what have to be said are justified.’
Addressing the question of whether the aim of the transitional provision was legitimate, Chamberlain told the tribunal that the approach was followed by reforms throughout the public sector, covering civil servants, the armed forces, doctors, teachers, police officers and fire fighters, as well as the judiciary.
Should tribunal judge Stuart Williams find the aim of the transitional provisions to be illegitimate, Chamberlain said the provisions would be illegitimate in other cases too.
Chamberlain said: ‘Those against me may say “so be it, maybe (the aim) is illegitimate in every case”. But the consequences of finding that it is should cause the tribunal to think very carefully whether that really is so.’
The hearing continues.
5.30pm update: Employment tribunal judge Stuart Williams has reserved judgment. He told the tribunal: 'Not to the surprise of anyone, the decision is going to be reserved. People ask "how long?". No longer than necessary.'