Lawyer loses legal battle over retirement age
Leslie Seldon, a partner in a Kent law firm has lost a Supreme Court Appeal on age discrimination this week. He had claimed that he had been treated unfairly on the grounds that he had been compulsorily retired at 65. Mr Seldon appealed a previous decision in the Court of Appeal which had ruled in favour of the firm, Clarkson Wright & Jakes, which is based in Orpington, Kent.
The case looked at the particular issue of whether a mandatory retirement age could be set in a partnership agreement. The decision of the five Supreme Court justices this week seems to indicate that it might. However, they did recommend that the case be again be looked at by the Employment Tribunal “to consider whether the choice of mandatory age of 65 was a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aims of the partnership”.
Following the ruling, Clive Howard, partner of law firm Russell Jones & Walker, said: “The Supreme Court decision in Seldon is disappointing given the recent abolition of the forced retirement of employees, since it upheld that a partner at a law firm could, in principle, be forced to retire at a given age.
“This would appear to undermine the Government’s decision to abolish retirement ages in the first place.”
“However, employers should not form the view that this means it will be lawful to force staff to retire at 65 up and down the country.”
Richard Fox, partner and head of employment at law firm Kingsley Napley, said: “This is a significant decision, not just for partnerships but all companies craving certainty and guidance about how to handle issues of retirement and succession.”