Government scraps Judicial Pensions Bill

The government today dropped its controversial Judicial Pensions Bill in favour of fresh proposals which will maintain the value of judges’ pensions.

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, made a written statement to Parliament announcing that the Bill was being scrapped. Judicial pensions are also being deregistered from the Finance Act 2004, meaning that they will not be subject to the threatened £1.5m cap on tax-free money in a pensions fund.

In October The Lawyer exclusively reported that some High Court judges were threatening to resign over the Bill, and on 7 November revealed that senior judges and the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) had instructed leading counsel at Wilberforce Chambers as the debate continued.

The new proposals mean that while the £1.5m cap will not apply, judges will have to pay income tax on pensions contributions. However on retirement a long service award will be payable, reflecting the judge’s grade and years of service.

Lord Falconer said the proposals will “serve to maintain but not improve the overall remuneration package for the serving judiciary and to protect the principle of judicial independence in so doing.”