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Part-time Judges: Backdated Judicial Pensions

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Thanks to Lucy Boyle of 12 King’s Bench Walk Chambers for preparing this case summary

When does the period of reckonable service begin for the purpose of calculating the amount of pension to which a retired part-time judge is entitled?

On 7 April 2000, the date by which the Part-time Workers Directive should have been transposed into domestic law, according to the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Ministry of Justice v O'Brien.

The Supreme Court previously held that Mr O’Brien, a retired Recorder, was entitled to a pension on terms equivalent to those applicable to a circuit judge. This was pursuant to the Part Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000, which transposed the Directive into domestic law. The Court remitted the case to the Employment Tribunal for the determination of the amount of the pension to be awarded.

On 19 August 2013, the Tribunal held that Mr O’Brien was entitled to a pension calculated from the start of his service in 1978, even though this pre-dated the commencement of the Regulations.

On appeal by the Ministry of Justice, the EAT held that the Tribunal’s approach was wrong as a matter law. The level of pension will be the result of the gradual accrual of rights during a period of employment. However, the calculation of a pension owed to a part-time worker should include only his period of service since discrimination against part-time workers had been rendered unlawful. To find otherwise would undermine the well-established principle of legal certainty.

You can read all the case summaries - dating back to 2010 - in the part-time judges' pension saga.