In Seldon v Clarkson Wright and Jakes, Mr Seldon was a partner in a law fi rm and was compulsorily retired on 31 December 2006, the end of the year in which he reached 65. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 (the Regulations) currently allow employers to retire employees as soon as they hit 65; however, this does not apply to partnerships. Mr Seldon disputed the dismissal arguing that he had been directly discriminated against on grounds of age.

The tribunal, EAT and Court of Appeal dismissed his claim and subsequent appeals and held that compulsory retirement could be a proportionate means of achieving the following legitimate aims:

  • ensuring associates were given the opportunity of partnership after a reasonable period
  • facilitating the planning of the partnership and workforce across individual departments by having a realistic long-term expectation as to when vacancies will arise  
  • limiting the need to expel partners by way of performance management, thus contributing to the congenial and supportive culture in the firm

This case is likely to have particular signifi cance for employers after October 2011, when the Government has proposed to remove the default retirement age of 65 for employees. The Government’s consultation on this proposal is due to run until October 2010.