Socialist Worker

Judges given special treatment over pensions

Issue No. 1972

While millions of public sector workers are facing deep attacks on their pensions, another group paid from the public purse are being offered further handouts.

Judges are in line for a pay rise of up to 20 percent if the government goes ahead with plans to limit tax relief on their pensions to “only” £1.5 million.

Labour ministers have grovellingly offered the rise if, by some oversight, judges don’t get exempted from new tax laws.

The government has already pledged a Judicial Pensions Bill this autumn to exempt judges from the new rules on pensions that come into force next year.

But there is mounting concern among judges that the bill will not be given a high priority in parliamentary business.

Even if it does find a slot, the likelihood of MPs agreeing such a measure is remote.

Lord Woolf, who retired last week as Lord Chief Justice, spoke to the The Times just before leaving his post.

He said, “It is a matter of very great concern to many judges, what the position will be regarding their pensions.”

But he emphasised that the judges were not seeking special treatment.

Woolf said, “The important thing about what is being sought is that this is not a special deal for judges.

“What is being sought is to put the judges in the same position as everyone else.”

The same as everyone else? There are 107 High Court judges, who each get £155,404 a year.

There are 37 Court of Appeal judges, who get £175,671 a year.

Most judges build up substantial personal pension funds while barristers, earning much higher salaries, in most cases, than they do as judges.

Most retire on pensions of £100,000 a year or more.

They can then become consultants with a law firm or set up a practice in mediation or arbitration, as Lord Woolf himself intends to do.

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Sat 15 Oct 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1972
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