Supreme Court prepares to rule in Seldon age discrimination case

The Supreme Court will next week (25 April) decide what justifications a partnership can use to  retire a partner when it hands down judgment in Seldon v Clarkson Write & Jakes (CWJ).

The court will also determine the outcome of another age discrimination dispute, Homer v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, which was joined with Seldon last year.

Homer instructed lawyers to pursue his claim for indirect discrimination after he was turned down for a promotion. Homer worked as a legal adviser with the police national legal database, having had 30 years’ experience as a police officer. When he was 61, he applied for promotion to a higher pay grade. He was turned down, even though he was very experienced, on the ground that he did not meet its “essential” requirement that he hold a law degree or similar qualification. This, he argued, was indirect discrimination.

The Court of Appeal (CoA), however, rejected the claim.

The snowballing Seldon dispute will see Cloisters’ Robin Allen QC, instructed by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in support of the lawyer, go up against Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose, who has been instructed to intervene on behalf of the Government.

Lawyer Seldon, whose firm CWJ made him retire when he reached 65, as was set out in the partnership deed, claimed that the firm could not justify the retirement and therefore was discriminating against him.

The ruling will have implications for how all partners can be retired from partnerships.

Cloisters is also leading the challenge for Homer, with Declan O’Dempsey instructed by McCormicks partner Neil Goodrum acting. He faced 11KBW’s Clive Lewis QC, who was drafted in at the Supreme Court stage to lead Broadway House Chambers’ David Jones, who led the case at the CoA.

The Supreme Court convened five justices in January to hear the dispute: Supreme Court justices Lords Hope, Hale, Brown, Mance and Kerr.