The rationale of The Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act1993 was to create consistency in the judicial retirement system. This matter becomes controversial among many people including judges.
This is because, by some, the retirement age may be seen as a positive well deserved rest from a demanding job especially in the legal sector. Many employees take this as an opportunity to spend time with their family members or even take part in other voluntary or charity work. On the other hand, however, others may feel that they are capable of continuing their work journey past the current retirement age.
Therefore, having to retire at an earlier age may make them feel as though they are forced to leave for simply being ‘too old’. This essay will discuss the arguments for and against the retirement age being raised to 75. Firstly, some have argued that a retirement age should not be considered as a punishment but rather as a well-earned rest and reward for judges’ hard work. Therefore, a default retirement age should not be seen as an end to be active. The retirement population can still participate in charity work or pursue other activities of their interest. Secondly, it should also not be perceived a punishment as it provides new employees with more opportunities. Some critics have argued that there is a direct link between the appointments of new judges and the judicial retirement age whereby youngemployees have to wait to be appointed only when judges retire. Therefore, a default retirement age will give young employees the opportunity to enter the profession.
However, the argument about the link between judges’retirement age and appointments of new employees remains weak. This is because, according to s22 of the Courts Act2003, judicial-appointment of a barrister requires a five year experience to be eligible as a District Judge. This means that itwill reach a number of years before new employees could reach that particular field. Therefore, this proves that the opportunities for new employees are not limited because of the retirement age for judges; in fact, it is the requirement for experience that the job title requires. Additionally, Lord Neuberger ‘calls for an increase in the retirement age to’address problems in recruiting Crown Court and High Court judges’. This highlights issues that early retirement triggers as they are not enough judges available to take up the space of retired judges. It is, therefore, unfair to curtail judges’ work early assuming that it will allow new employees the opportunity to reach the height of their careers. Secondly, it may be argued that the retirement age for judges should be raised to 75 because it is not the jurisdiction of the state to decide what is best for an individual.
Some judges are forced to leave the office once they reach an age chosen by the state. However, they feel capable of continuing regardless of that as per The Heyday case. The case challenged provisions under the Employment Equality (age) Regulations2006 which allows employers to dismiss workers aged 65 or over for retirement. The argument was based on whether the default retirement age was discriminatory or not.
Moreover, the Office of National Statistics reveals the rise in women working past the default retirement age, from ‘5.6% to 11.3% between 2012 and 2016’ and also ‘15.5% of men are still in employment at the age of 70’. This proves that individuals choose to remain in the workplace and it is unfair that the state chooses for them against their wishes. Additionally some judges, according to the news reports, have sued for age discrimination as they are ‘forced’ to retire at 70. This indicates how passionate judges are about continuing to work past the default age.
Therefore, it should be raised because judges want it to and also the state should not decide which age an individual remains fit to work.However, from the health perspective, it is far better to retire as early as 70. This is because professionals such as judges are often more vulnerable to stress related illnesses. Statistics show that the older generation are more likely to suffer from mental related issues. This may take a hit on their judgment which will make them ineffective in carrying out their primary role as a judge. According to s3 of the PromissoryOaths Act 1868, judges must make an oath to ‘do right to all manner of people and without fear or favour, affection or ill will.’ Since judges have a big responsibility in society, it is important that their judgments are not affected by mental illnesses.
This is because it may have detrimental effects on their judgment leading to errors or incompetence that could risk the lives or liberty of many people. Moreover, if the retirement age was to increase to 75, judges may not be able to keep their oath due to mental related issues in which they have no control over. To contrast, this point may be criticised because there is no medical evidence to confirm that a person at the age of 75 is either infirm or incapable of working as a judge. In fact, some judges describe 75 as their ‘peak age’ and it would not be in the best of interest to force judges to retire at the peak of their careers and abilities. Furthermore, in such profession there are safeguards to identify malpractices or incompetence. For example, S36 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 states a medical certificate is required to prove any medical issues. Once the medical issues have been identified, only then judges must retire. Moreover, it is unfair to categorise all judges as suffering from medical issues once they reach a certain age.
Therefore, forcing judges out of office at the age of 70 may be seen as punishing the healthy and capable individuals who wish to work beyond this age. Thirdly, there is a requirement for an increased diversity in the judiciary. Judges who prolong their retirement age limit the diversity to old white males. If the retirement age does not increase, it will mean that positions will be available for new young employees. This will enable them to bring innovate ideas that are relatable to contemporary society.
Indeed, an increased diversity in the judiciary attracts growing political support and helps shape the development of the law. Therefore, by allowing judges to retire by the default age, it will open up opportunities to a wide field of lawyers who are willing to accurately represent the society they serve.On the other hand, the life expectancy has increased meaningpeople are living longer.
Forcing capable individuals to retire at 70 only creates an economic burden of pensioners on the state. If the retirement age increases, it will increase the size of the working sector which may increase the GDP of the UK. Moreover, the Office for National Statistics, states ‘a typical circuit judge has a salary of £130,000’ while ‘High Court judges are paid £174,000’ on average, meaning many will collect pensions of £104,500. Therefore, forcing judges to retire at 70 will create economic issues where tax payers will find themselves paying billions of pounds to cover the pension money. Due to this, the retirement age should be raised to 75 as it will boost the economy of the state as well as help taxpayers paying for pension funds.
It is suggested that the best line of the argument is the retirement age for judges should be raised. The experience which has been gained by older judges over the course of their employment will create consistency in the judiciary. This is because it will be similar judgments which will be in the best interest of society. To achieve the same outcome, it can be argued that knowledge from older judges may be transferred in the form of precedents on newly appointed judges.
This way, the knowledge and experience from older judges are retained and newly judges will also benefit from that. To conclude, there are many arguments for and against the increase of the retirement age for judges. Although many critics say it is a negative and discriminatory issue to force judges out of the job because they have reached a certain age, others argue that a retirement age should be seen as a reward. Given a retirement age should not be perceived as a negative issue; rather it opens up opportunities to younger employees who have potential as well as addressing the issues concerning diversity in the judiciary.