An employment tribunal rejected a former partner’s claim that changes to a law firm’s pension scheme amounted to unlawful age discrimination. The tribunal said that as a 54 year old, Mr Bloxham was treated less favourably than a 55 year old and that this constituted less favourable treatment on the grounds of age. The original structure of the scheme meant that younger partners would contribute more to their pension, but would ultimately receive smaller pensions. The tribunal found that the reform of the pension scheme was in pursuit of a legitimate aim (to redress the unfairness to younger partners) and the treatment was a proportionate means to achieve that aim. As such, the less favourable treatment was justified and the complaint of discrimination was not upheld.

This case is the first important decision on objective justification in benefit changes under the age discrimination regulations.

Bloxham v Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer