Age Concern has lost the first stage of its challenge before the European Court of Justice that UK employers can force employees to retire at age 65.

The preliminary decision of the Court's Advocate General is that UK legislation can allow different treatment on grounds of age if it is a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim and that allowing compulsory retirement at age 65 or over is justifiable. The Government's position is that allowing compulsory retirement at age 65 is vital to the proper functioning of the UK labour market.

The decision is not altogether surprising as it follows a similar ruling on a Spanish case last year. However, it will be welcome news for the UK Government and employers.

The court is expected to make a final ruling later in the year, although it would be unusual for it not to follow the Advocate General's Opinion.

Opinion of Advocate General: Case C- 388/07, delivered on 23 September 2008