Part time judges and pensions

26 February 2013

Many members of the Bar undertake public duties as Recorders, or as part-time Judges sitting in a wide range of jurisdictions. They are almost always fee-paid rather than salaried.

Over many years, they have been treated differently for pensions purposes than salaried judges who undertake identical work. In O'Brien v Ministry of Justicethe Supreme Court (following a reference to the ECJ) has ruled in July 2012 that a Recorder  is a"worker"for the purposes of the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (implementing EU Directive 97/81/EC). This may well open the door to claims by part-time judges sitting in any capacity (such as a recorder or tribunal judge) to receive pensions in the future and, in respect of past service, to receive compensation for the MOJ's refusal to pay pensions to part-time judges. A further hearing took place in the Supreme Court in November 2012 concerning objective justification and a ruling is awaited. 

The Bar Council has sought advice on how part time judges may protect their position and a note on this is available to read here. The Bar Council is unable to provide individual legal advice, and passes on this information simply for the convenience of its members.