Ministers have lost the latest round of their battle with more than 200 judges as a tribunal ruled that changes to their pensions had an “extremely severe impact” that outweighed the public benefit of policy consistency across the sector. The ruling upholds the unprecedented victory last year by the judges, including six members of the High Court bench, and lands ministers with a potential bill of between £70 million to £100 million to restore judges to their previous pension rights.
The Court has handed down judgment on 29 January and found that:
1. The Employment Tribunal considered whether the Appellants had established “a legitimate aim” with a view to justifying the acknowledged age discriminatory effect of operating the transitional provisions of the New Judicial Pension Scheme. The Employment Tribunal misunderstood and/or misapplied the facts and erred in law in concluding that the Appellants had not established a legitimate aim.
2. The Employment Tribunal considered whether, on the assumption that the Appellants had established a legitimate aim, the means adopted, namely the operation of the transitional arrangements, were proportionate means for pursuing a legitimate aim. In so doing the Employment Tribunal properly applied ECJ, CJEU and domestic authorities and adopted the appropriate level of scrutiny.
3. In applying that appropriate level of scrutiny to the facts which it had found, the Employment Tribunal was entitled to conclude, and did not err in law in concluding, that the Appellants had failed to justify the discriminatory effect of the transitional provisions of the NJPS.
4. Accordingly, notwithstanding the error of law described in paragraph 1, the decision of the Employment Tribunal on justification was not wrong in law and the Appellants’ appeal on this issue is dismissed.