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Tribunal Rules on Part-Time Judges’ Pension Rights

Coronors CourtIn a ruling which placed an important limitation on the scope of EU rules designed to protect part-time workers from less favourable treatment, a retired part-time judge has failed to convince the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that his pension entitlement should be calculated by reference to the date on which he took up office.

The former barrister had sat as a recorder between 1978 and 2005 and had campaigned for equality of pension rights between part-time judicial office holders and their full-time brethren. Following a reference to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the Supreme Court ruled that he was entitled to a pension by operation of the Part-Time Workers Directive (the directive) and the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.

Remaining issues as to the amount of the pension payable to him were remitted to the Employment Tribunal, which ruled that his entitlement should be calculated by reference to the date of his judicial appointment. In practice, that meant that he would receive a pension of approximately £10,000 a year.

However, in allowing the Ministry of Justice’s appeal – and cutting the ex-judge’s pension to about £1,500 a year – the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that his judicial earnings prior to 7 April 2000, the date on which the directive had to be brought into force, could not count towards his entitlement.

Noting that it was only on that date that discrimination against part-time workers in terms of their pension rights had become unlawful in Britain, the EAT found that the legal position was clear and declined to refer the issue for further consideration by the ECJ.