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Mandatory retirement in 2006 was legal – but would it be today? (Seldon v Clarkson Wright & Jakes)

by on May 31, 2013

One of the first claims for age discrimination brought under the Age Regulations was that of Mr Seldon, a partner with Clarkson Wright & Jakes, who claimed against the firm when he was forced to retire at age 65 under their mandatory rules.

Last year, the Supreme Court sent his claim back to the employment tribunal to consider a number of issues relating to justification (was 65 an appropriate age for mandatory retirment or should 68 or 70 have been adopted?).

As reported here in Daniel Barnett’s Employment Law Bulletin, the employment tribunal has this week ruled that retention and planning were legitimate aims, that collegiality within the law firm was also (with some caveats) a legitimate aim, and that having a mandatory retirement age achieved these three aims.  The tribunal therefore ruled that mandatory retirement at 65 was a proportionate means of achieving those aims.

As the article goes on to point out, however, that the judgment should not be seen as a blanket approval of policies to impose a mandatory retirement age of 65.

The issues surrounding the concept of ‘justification’ will always depend on the facts of the case.  As the Seldon claim has taken so long to work its way through the legal process, the latest ruling is based on social policy and demographics in 2006.  Social norms about people working beyond 65 (and state pension age) have developed since then and the tribunal has specifically stated that the case might be decided differently on facts arising today.

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