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Pension case for part-time judges clears final hurdle – Supreme Court ruling

6 February 2013

The Supreme Court, in O’Brien v Ministry of Justice, has today ruled that part-time judges are entitled to the same pension, pro rata, as full-time judges. Until now, full-time judges receive a judicial pension while part-time judges do not. The pension, as the Ministry of Justice acknowledged, is a significant part of a judge’s remuneration. The principles established will have important implications for all part-time workers.

The case depended on whether the EU Directive on part-time workers applied to judges and, if it did, whether excluding part-time judges from judicial pensions contravened the Directive (and the UK regulations implementing the Directive). That in turn depended on whether excluding part-time judges from judicial pensions could be objectively justified.

As well as ensuring fair treatment for part–time judges, this decision also has wider implications and will be an important yardstick for part-time workers in ensuring that they cannot be treated less favourably just to save the employer money.

Browne Jacobson acted for Mr O’Brien, a Recorder.

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