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Pension decision highlights difficulties

A major ruling the UK Supreme Court has given the strongest indication yet that the region’s employers may in fact have some powers to ensure that employees retire at 65.

The case concerned Leslie Seldon, a partner at a law firm who whilst wanting to work past 65, was forced to retire when he reached that age because the Partnership deed stated that the firm needed to ensure succession at the firm was in place so that younger members of staff could progress. Mr Seldon argued that when the firm forced him to retire it was a case of age discrimination.  The Court unanimously rejected his appeal, saying that ensuring fairness amongst employees was a legitimate aim for employers and therefore no discrimination had taken place.

Phil Cookson from City based Roythornes Solicitors said that the case highlighted the complexities surrounding retirement:

“The Default Retirement Age was abolished last year which means that in most circumstances, employers cannot force their employees to retire at a specific age.  This ruling however highlights that it is in fact possible, but employers must be extremely cautious if they want to take this route and take case specific advice.  With no limit on possible awards, the costs of an age discrimination claim could prove fatal to a business, so it pays to be sure of your position before you act.”