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Judges’ pension rights will be preserved, Raab confirms

By Monidipa Fouzder >>

(3 March 2023)

Judges’ pension rights will be preserved, the lord chancellor has confirmed – following concern that thousands of part-time judges stood to lose billions in pension benefits.

Last month Gazette columnist and legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg revealed that more than 11,000 serving or former part-time judges in England and Wales stood to lose pension benefits worth a total of £3.5bn if the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill passed and no further action was taken by Raab.

Part-time judges are paid pensions under the Judicial Pensions (Fee-Paid Judges) Regulations 2017. However, these regulations had to be amended as a result of a ruling in the O’Brien case by the EU’s court of justice in 2018. New provisions in the Judicial Pensions (Fee Paid Judges) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 are expected to take effect on 1 April.

In a letter seen by the Gazette, Raab told the lord chief justice today that he has decided the fee-paid judicial pension scheme regulations should be preserved. Officials have been instructed ‘to take the necessary actions to that end’.

Raab told Lord Burnett of Maldon that there was never a question of accrued pension entitlements being lost, but ‘I know that uncertainty around the legislative framework has given rise to concerns for scheme members and their dependents, and I have received a number of representations in that regard’.

Raab said he was unable to confirm the position before today ‘as I needed to fully consider all of the relevant information and advice in the round’.

He added: ‘I attach great importance to the judicial pay and pension arrangements that allow us to recruit and retain the very best legal minds to the bench and, notwithstanding the introduction of the reformed Judicial Pension Scheme in April 2022, the legacy pension arrangements, including FPJPS, are an important part of that. Indeed, I recently laid the Judicial Pensions (Fee-Paid Judges) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 in parliament to provide additional entitlements to pension benefits for eligible fee-paid judicial service before 7 April 2000.

‘My officials will inform judicial associations of my decision in relation to FPJPS as soon as possible so that affected judges can be reassured on the position.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)