A two-week hearing will begin today (15th November 2016) on behalf of 204 judges who have issued claims at the London Central Employment Tribunal against the Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss, and the Ministry of Justice for direct age discrimination, indirect race and sex discrimination and equal pay.
The judges taking the action cover all disciplines and jurisdictions and include employment judges, circuit judges, district judges, sheriffs and immigration judges.
The claims follow changes which were made to judicial pensions in April 2015.
From 1 April 2015, judges born after 1 April 1957 were required to leave the Judicial Pension Scheme and were instead offered membership of what the judges argue is a far less beneficial New Judicial Pension Scheme.
According to the law firm Leigh Day, who represent the judges, this constitutes unlawful direct age discrimination.
According to Shubha Banerjee from Leigh Day, the way these changes have been imposed on younger judges is discriminatory.
Ms Banerjee said: “The judiciary, having traditionally been mostly male and white, has undergone recruitment drives in recent years to improve its diversity and has sought to recruit more women judges and more judges from a black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.
“As a result of these successful recruitment drives, there are far more women and BME judges in the younger, disadvantaged group.
“The government accepts that younger judges are being less favourably treated, and that the female and BME judges are placed at a disadvantage when compared with other judges, but will try to argue that it can objectively justify behaviour that will otherwise be unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act.”