The attorney general has given his opinion in the case brought by Age Concern, challenging the UK law allowing default retirement from age 65.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) heard the Heyday case on 22 July 2008 and its judgment is not expected until at least early 2009. Although the advocate general’s opinion may be influential, the ECJ is not obliged to follow it.

Age Concern England sought a declaration the provisions of the UK’s Employment Equality (Age) Regulations that allow employers to dismiss employees aged 65 and over by reason of retirement are invalid on the grounds that they do not properly transpose the EU directive prohibiting age discrimination.

The attorney general’s view is that:

  • the UK rules allowing default retirement are covered by the EU directive prohibiting age discrimination; and
  • those rules can in principle be objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate aim.

However, he did not give a view as to whether the UK law could, in fact, be objectively justified. This question was not referred to the ECJ and will be decided by the national court when the ECJ has answered the general question as to whether such laws are covered by the directive and capable of objective justification.