Wednesday 14 November 2012

ECJ - Age Discrimination and Retirement

[Thanks to Emma Price of Temple Garden Chambers for preparing this case summary]
Is lowering the compulsory retirement age for judges from 70 to 62 justified age discrimination?

No, says the CJEU in EC v Hungary, because it is not proportionate as regards the objectives pursued.

The amendment gave rise to a difference in treatment based on age between persons within a given profession.  The aims of this amendment were legitimate: firstly, standardisation, in the context of professions in the public sector, of the age limit for compulsory retirement; and secondly, the establishment of a 'more balanced age structure' facilitating access for young lawyers to the professions of judge, prosecutor and notary and guaranteeing them an accelerated career.

However, whilst the lowering of the retirement age was appropriate in pursuit of the first aim, it was not necessary considering the interests of those forced to retire early and the fact that the amendment was not gradually staggered.  The second aim was not appropriate as the short term effects of vacating numerous posts, which will be liable to be occupied by young lawyers, could not be said to achieve a truly balanced age structure in the medium and long term.

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