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ECJ ruling in O’Brien – what does the future hold for Part Time Judicial Pensions?

8 March 2012

On 1 March the CJEU decided that whilst the Part Time Workers Directive allows Member States to apply national law to interpret ‘worker’, the interpretation must respect the effectiveness of the Directive and the general principles of EU law and must not exclude whole categories of workers from its protection. The fact that judges are office-holders under national law does not stop them being workers, and classifying judges as workers does not undermine the independence of the judiciary. It was irrelevant that part-time salaried judges receive pensions, and that full-time judges cannot practise as solicitors or barristers whereas part-time fee paid judges can.

The matter will be referred back to the Supreme Court to assess whether the nature of the employment relationship in question is substantially different from the traditional employer/ ‘worker’ relationship – if Mr O’Brien is successful, this will open the flood gates for thousands of claims.

Rachel Crasnow and Robin Allen QC instructed by Edward Benson of our Employment Team, represented Mr O’Brien.

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