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EAT dismisses circuit judge discrimination claims

In Clayson v Ministry of Justice [2024] EAT 99, a discrimination claim was brought by circuit judges appointed after 31 March 1995 who were formerly fee-paid part time recorders appointed as such before that date, and who had been denied membership of the 1981 judicial pension scheme. Following the O’Brien litigation, those judges had been granted pension benefits on the 1981 scheme terms in relation to their sittings as recorders. However, on their appointment to the circuit bench they had been denied access to the 1981 scheme, and were compulsorily enrolled into the less favourable successor scheme. The judges claimed discrimination, relying as comparators on those circuit judges appointed before 31 March 1995, who had been allowed to pension benefits on the 1981 scheme terms after that date.

Kerr J, sitting in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, upheld the dismissal of the claim by the Employment Tribunal, agreeing that: (1) the offices of recorder and circuit judge were different, although they performed essentially the same activities in their judicial work; and (2) the effective and predominant cause of the claimants being denied access to the 1981 scheme after being appointed as circuit judges was not that they had served part-time as recorders, both before and after 31 March 1995, but that they were part of a group of judges appointed after 31 March 1995 to a different qualifying judicial office for pension purposes.

The decision can be read here.

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