In Palacios v Cortefiel, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) considered certain provisions of Spanish law which allowed a retirement age of 65 to be fixed in a collective bargaining agreement.

The ECJ considered the ambit of objective justification in the context of the Spanish legislation, ruling that the fixed retirement age:

  • Although based on age, was objectively and reasonably justified in the context of national law by a "legitimate aim relating to employment policy and the labour market"; and
  • The means put in place to achieve that public interest aim "do not appear to be inappropriate and unnecessary for the purpose."

Whilst the ECJ was considering a provision of Spanish law, the decision might prove to be a precursor to the Heyday case (where the UK government is being challenged in respect of legislation which allows employers to set a fixed normal retirement age).