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Judiciary (Retirement Age)

Volume 205: debated on Friday 6 March 1992

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To ask the Attorney-General whether he has any plans to bring forward proposals to reduce the retirement age for the judiciary.

The Lord Chancellor has today written to bodies representative of the judiciaries in England and Wales and Northern Ireland seeking their views on reducing the retirement age of the judiciary to 70. The text of his letter is as follows:

"I am writing to seek views on the appropriate maximum retirement age for the judiciary. I believe that the time has come to reduce the retirement age for the judiciary, and also to introduce a standard retirement age for all judges and judicial officers. What I would propose therefore is that all judges and judicial officers from the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary and Heads of Divisions downwards should, in future, be required to retire at the latest on their 70th birthdays.
I intend that the new retirement age of 70 for full-time service should apply to those who are appointed to full-time judicial office after it comes into force. Anyone in full-time judicial office on the relevant day, and who remains in the same office, will be able to retain his or her existing maximum retirement age.
I would welcome your views on the position of someone holding judicial office on the relevant day who is subsequently appointed to a different, usually more senior, judicial office. The two main possibilities here would seem to be to treat the change of office as a new appointment, with the consequence that the new retirement age of 70 will apply, or to allow the person concerned to retain the entitlement to retire at the present maximum retirement age of the junior office.
A change in the retirement age will require primary legislation. Subject to the results of this consultation, I would intend to make any changes at the same time as the new judicial pension scheme is introduced.
I propose that these changes should apply to Northern Ireland as well as to England and Wales. The Secretary of State for Scotland will be consulting on similar proposals for Scotland.
I would welcome your views on these proposals. It would be helpful if they could be sent to Mr. S. F. Smith, Lord Chancellor's Department, Room 204, Trevelyan House, 30 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2BY to arrive no later than 31 March 1992."