Part-time judges' landmark victory

Posted: 26th July 2016

GoldfishIn a resounding decision which will help to bring an end to pay discrimination against part-time workers, two part-time judges who complained that they were treated less favourably than their full-time brethren have scored a comprehensive victory in their quest for equal treatment by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

The judges both acted as part-time chairs of a property tribunal and were paid fees for their work. In earlier proceedings, they had succeeded in establishing that they were treated less favourably than full-time, salaried, colleagues in respect of their pension rights.

They also successfully argued before an Employment Tribunal (ET) that, when compared to full-time judges, they were underpaid for their work on writing up decisions in leasehold valuation cases. The ET found that, in order to achieve parity, they should receive an additional fee in respect of decision writing equivalent to two thirds of the daily fee that they earned for each day’s sitting. That meant that, if they heard a case over three days, they should be paid for two further days to cover decision writing. The ET subsequently refused to review its own decision.

The MoJ’s challenge to the latter ruling was rejected by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The MoJ, however, argued before the Court of Appeal that the end result of the ET’s decision was that part-time judges would be over-compensated for their work, particularly in respect of longer cases, and would be treated more favourably than full-time colleagues.

In dismissing the appeal, however, the Court rejected arguments that the decision would have perverse or irrational results. It was quite impossible to say that the ET had erred in declining to review its decision and in concluding that it would not be in the interests of justice to do so.