In thisessay I will be discussing whether or not the retirement age for judges shouldbe raised to 75.
A judge is an individual who is in charge of applying the lawsthat are made by Parliament, to each case that comes to court. This is done byusing certain aspects of law, for example, precedent in common law. There are severaldifferent types of judges in UK law, such as; circuit judges, district judges,high court judges, and magistrates (magistrates only deal with minor cases, andhave no legal experience/ qualifications) etc.
Under Section 26 of the Judicial Pensions andRetirement Act 1993, the current age that judges must retire at is 70.However, if you were appointed as a judge before the 31st March1995, then you can remain a judge until you are 75 years of age. One of themain reasons why the retirement age for judges was increased to 70 by the aboveact was so the courts could introduce consistency with the legal system inregards to the aspect of judicial retirement.This can beseen as unfair on those who were appointed after 1995, as they are forced intoan earlier retirement, when they may in fact want to continue their career as ajudge. There have been many cases where judges have tried to sue for agediscrimination.
One case example is Johnv Ministry of Justice (2014). In this case, the judges took their cases tothe Ministry of Justice, however they were unsuccessful when trying to sue forage discrimination in regards to the retirement age for judges. This is becausethe law set in regarding the retirement age was set in order to meet the publicpolicy aims. And in order to achieve this would mean that the currentretirement age should remain at 70 years old. Therefore, the judges wereunsuccessful in their case and were forced into retirement.
There arealso many articles that portray the cases of Judge Jeremy Varcoe, and Judge Stuart Southgate. The following twojudges had also complained to the Employment Tribunal in Berks, when they weretold that they were too old to continue serving their role as judiciary membersat the age of 70. They subsequently argued that they were victims of agediscrimination by the Ministry of Justice. However, they unfortunately losttheir case as the decision made by the Ministry of Justice regarding their casewas that, no further contracts for judges over 70 would be renewed. Thereforemeaning they would be legally forced into an early retirement.
Despite wantingto continue the career they are passionate about. There can bemany pros and cons towards the current retirement age, and whether it should beraised to 75. Forexample, some people may disagree with the fact that the retirement age forjudges should be raised to 75 as it does not give the younger generation achance to enjoy the career path they have selected for their life. This isbecause they would have to wait a lot longer to get the opportunity to work inthat position in the legal field.
In addition to this, factors such asdiversity in gender, race etc, has also increased in the younger generation associety has developed more and subsequently become further evolved. Norms andvalues among other factors in society have also changed a lot for the newgeneration among us. As what the older generation of judges would not have seenas e.
g. a norm or value, many now be one in the modern day society. Therefore,this can also affect the mentality of the judge themselves and how they wouldapply the law to cases. On the otherhand, some people would disagree with the above as younger individuals who havechosen the career path of a judge, still have an equal chance as the normalretirement age for a job in the UK for men is 65 and for women is 60 years ofage. Therefore, meaning that some people may wish to retire at an earlier ageinstead of retiring at the age of 70 given by the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993. Subsequently, allowingthose who feel as if they should stop their time as a judge earlier than theywant to.
This allows the younger generation of judges to step up to the legalrole of a judge. In addition to this, it will allow society to have publicconfidence in the legal system because by having different retirement ages,allows the legal system to promote diversity within the law. Which once again, canhelp to maintain public confidence within not only the legal system but alsowith members of the judiciary. Anotheradvantage of the judges being forced into ‘early’ retirement at the age of 70,is that despite their position of being a judge is not valid anymore, they arestill allowed to sit judicially in court. For instance, some judges still sitpart-time as a deputy circuit judge whilst they are in retirement. Forinstance, a deputy district judge is appointed for 5 years. However, eventhough they can be extended for longer they are still binded to the contractualagreement that their retirement age is 70.
Therefore,their legal expertise is still being used and not wasted. However, once againthe law can be seen to be unfair and truly age discriminating to individuals,as if you are aged 75, and a retired judge, you are not allowed to do theabove. This can be considered as unfair on older, more experienced senior legalexpertise’s as they are being victims to ageism via the law. Despite the lawmeant to prevent discrimination from taking place.
Some may saythat a problem this can cause is inconsistency in the law, as the law iscontradicting itself by discriminating older individuals when discriminationitself is against the law. For instance, the Equality Act 2010 is supposed to protect individuals who are experiencingdiscrimination in regard to a certain personal characteristic. This could beexample, race, sex, disability, religion, and in this case, age. A person canbring about their case within a limit of 6 months of the act taking place inthe County Court in England and Wales, or if the person is in Scotland thenthey would go to the Sheriff Court. However, due to the law made for judiciaryin the Judicial Pensions and RetirementAct 1993, they wouldn’t be able to use the Equality Act as a sense ofprotecting themselves from age discrimination. This subsequently createsinconsistency in the law as both of the mentioned laws contradict each other.For instance, The Equality Act 2010 protects us, but at the same time cannot beused as protection from ageism from the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act1993.
To overcomethis problem, I think that Parliament should introduce a time limit for howlong a judge can hold their position. And do not think that they should have aspecific retirement age for a judge. This is because some individuals may taketime off of their duties to e.g. raise their children. And therefore, they arelosing out on the time that they could in fact have spent on their careers.
So,by giving individuals a limit of e.g. 15-20 years of being a judge would befairer than keeping the retirement age the same, or by even raising it to 75.
Bydoing this, it would enable the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act, to notdiscriminate others in regards to their age as their time in court will not bebased on the age that they are, but instead on the amount of time they havespent in that legal expertise position.