Court holds that public sector pension authorities have legal duty to amend statutory pension schemes to remove age discrimination provisions

Pensions 1

The Employment Appeal Tribunal handed down a significant judgment on 12 February which provides that responsibility for amending public sector pension schemes to remove the effects of age discrimination lies on public sector pension managers, including Chief Constables as Police Pension Authorities, and does not need to wait for the government to make amending Regulations.

In London Fire Commissioner & Ors v Sargeant & Ors  [2021] UKEAT _0137_1202 the EAT decided that provisions in the Equality Act 2010 meant that public body pension managers operating statutory pension schemes had a legal power and a legal duty to change the terms of the pension schemes to remove age discrimination provisions or were liable in damages from pensions affected by the scheme rules.  The pension scheme managers argued that they had to wait until the government introduced new Regulations but this was rejected by the court.

The age discrimination effects of a large number of public sector pension scheme were exposed by the Court of Appeal in The Lord Chancellor & Anor v McCloud & Ors [2018] EWCA Civ 2844, but no amending Regulations have yet been made by the government to remove the discriminatory elements of the schemes.

David Lock QC, who has appeared in many public sector pension scheme cases and is instructed in a series of cases where this point is relevant said:

“This is an important judgment and a wake-up call for anyone operating  public sector pension scheme.  

It means that public sector pension scheme managers such as Chief Constables have to resolve problems now.  They are not entitled to wait until the government eventually gets around to making new Regulations to remove the age discrimination effects exposed in the McCloud case.”

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