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05 November 2014

Compulsory retirement

2 mins

The EAT supports the Supreme Court ruling in this long running case, having a compulsory retirement age can be objectively justified by retention and planning aims.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has issued a further judgment in the long-running case of Seldon v Clarkson Wright & Jakes. Mr Seldon was a partner in a law firm and brought a claim of age discrimination when he was forced to retire at the age of 65 under the partnership’s rules.

This case has already been through the appeal process once, and the Supreme Court held that such discrimination was capable of objective justification (a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim). The case was remitted back to the Employment Tribunal who found that retention and planning were legitimate aims and that collegiality could be a legitimate aim. It further held that a mandatory retirement age achieved these aims and specifically, a mandatory retirement age of 65 was a proportionate means of achieving these legitimate aims.

On appeal, the EAT held that the Employment Tribunal was entitled to find a 65 was a suitable retirement age, even though the retirement age could equally have been set at 66.

It is important to note that this decision should not be taken as carte blanche for companies to impose mandatory retirement ages. Justification will always be needed and this is very much a fact-sensitive process.

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