Judges face ‘double whammy’ of tax changes and pension cuts, John Cavanagh, QC admits

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Dec 12, 2017
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The government is appealing a ruling that changes to judges’ pension arrangements amounted to age discrimination

David Bebber for The Times

Judges and firefighters are worse off under the government’s pension reforms, a barrister acting for the lord chancellor admitted yesterday.

John Cavanagh, QC, of 11KBW chambers in the Temple, who is also representing the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), accepted that judges faced a “doubly whammy” of tax changes and significant cuts to their pension entitlements.

He was opening the government’s challenge in the Employment Appeals Tribunal to a ruling earlier this year that the new pension arrangements for more than 200 judges amounted to unlawful age discrimination.

However, the case before the tribunal only concerns the transitional provisions, which were introduced “because of a sense of moral responsibility to those closest to retirement”, the silk said.

The Hutton Report, which in 2011 recommended wholesale public sector pension reforms, “had not recommended any transitional provisions at all”, he added.

Six High Court judges, including Sir Rabinder Singh, who now sits in the Court of Appeal, are among 210 claimants who challenged the lord chancellor and the MoJ over transitional provisions for pension reforms.

The others are Sir Nicholas Mostyn, Sir Roderick Newton, Sir Philip Moor, Dame Lucy Theis and Sir Richard Arnold.

In January the employment tribunal ruled that the lord chancellor and MoJ had treated and continued to treat the claimants “less favourably than their comparators because of their age”.

Stuart Williams, the tribunal judge who heard the case, said that the lord chancellor and MoJ had “failed to show their treatment of the claimants to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.

This week’s appeal in London is being heard by Sir Alan Wilkie, who retired from the High Court bench at the beginning of this year. It has been joined to a case involving 5,000 firefighters over their transitional pension protections.
The hearing continues.

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