The Advocate General in Palacios v Cortefiel Servicios SA (Case C-411/05) has ruled that a national law allowing compulsory retirement clauses to be included in collective agreements was not contrary to European legislation. Mr Palacios brought proceedings in Spain claiming that his dismissal on the ground that he had attained the compulsory retirement age laid down in a collective agreement was unlawful. The Spanish Court decided to refer the matter to the ECJ to see whether the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of age precluded a national law allowing compulsory retirement clauses to be included in collective agreements.

The Advocate General has held that such a provision was not contrary to the European Equal Treatment Framework Directive and that even if it was, it would be justified. Whilst the Advocate General’s Opinion is not binding on the ECJ it normally adopts the same approach. The Advocate General’s observations mean that Heyday, the organisation backed by Age Concern, will face an uphill struggle when its case comes before the ECJ. It is claiming that the UK Age Regulations contravene the Equal Treatment Directive by leaving people over 65 without the right or choice to work. The referral has apparently been delayed and may not now be heard until 2008 at the earliest