Judges could lose ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’ from pensions reform

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Dec 13, 2017
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Sir Rabinder Singh is among 210 judges bringing a claim against the government

Mary Turner for The Times

Senior judges will lose hundreds of thousands of pounds in pension payments over their lives while paying substantial tax under government reforms, the Employment Appeal Tribunal was told yesterday.

Based on the figures of the government’s actuary, senior judges will lose between £134,391 and £560,431 in pension payments over their lifetime, while incurring tax of £92,645 to £300,896.

The figures were disclosed in evidence yesterday to the appeals tribunal in London, where more than 200 judges are challenging new pension arrangements. The tribunal is hearing an appeal by the government of a ruling this year that the new pension arrangements for more the judges amount to unlawful age discrimination.

Ministers have conceded that judges and firefighters, whose own challenge has been joined with that of the judges, are worse off under the government’s pension reforms.

John Cavanagh, QC, of 11KBW chambers in the Temple, who is representing the lord chancellor and Ministry of Justice, accepted that judges faced a “double whammy” as a result of tax changes on top of significant cuts to their pension entitlements.

Ministers argue that the arrangements are “objectively justified” and a “proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aim of protecting those closest to retirement from the financial effects of pension reform.

Six High Court judges, including Sir Rabinder Singh, who now sits in the Court of Appeal, are among 210 claimants challenging the 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 2015, the judges were compulsorily transferred to the new judicial pension scheme.

Shah Qureshi, a solicitor at the London law firm Bindmans, which is representing the High Court judges, said: “It is clear these reforms discriminate against younger judges and disproportionately impact on women and ethnic minorities.”

Qureshi added that “the key question is whether protecting those closest to retirement at the expense of younger judges, women and ethnic minorities is legitimate and proportionate”.

The hearing continues.

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