In giving his judgment, however, Mr Justice Blake said that if the Government had not announced that it would bring forward its review of the default retire age (DRA), which is currently 65, he would have found against the Government.
In his ruling Blake J said of a retirement age of 65: “It creates greater discriminatory effect than is necessary on a class of people who are able to and want to continue their employment.”
According to Paul Epstein QC of Cloisters Chambers, who chairs the Employment Law Bar Association, the judgment effectively put the onus on the Government to either abandon the DRA or raise it.
The Government announced that it would address regulations relating to the DRA days before the case commenced in June.
“Tactically it was quite astute on the part of the Government,” Epstein commented.
Beachcroft employment partner Rachel Dineley added: “Given the judge’s comments, it’s clear that employers cannot afford to be complacent as the default retirement age of 65 may not be sustainable for much longer.”
The decision addresses an application for judicial review by the Heyday group, a former branch of Age Concern, which argued that the compulsory retirement age of 65 allowed under the Employment Equality (Age) regulations 2006 was incompatible with the European Equal Treatment (Framework) Directive.
Therefore, the claimants argued, it was discriminatory.
The case will affect employees specifically. The situation for partnerships will be clarified when the judgment in Seldon v Clarkson Wright & Jakes is handed down
(8 July 2009).
In the case that concluded today Rose (pictured) was instructed by The Treasury solicitors to act for the Secretary of State for Business Skills and Innovation, formerly the Secretary of State for Business and Industry.
Irwin Mitchell instructed Cloisters’ Robin Allen QC to act for claimants Age UK, formerly Age Concern and Heyday.
Keith Ashcroft, a lawyer at The Equality and Human Rights Commission, instructed Lord Anthony Lester of Blackstone Chambers to act as an intervener on the claimant side.
For an interview with Dinah Rose click here.