During the past four years, the number of women working past the age of 70 has doubled. Official government figures further reveal that one in seven men remain in employment at the age of 70.
Lord Neuberger, the president of the supreme court, considers that the judiciary should follow suit. His argument is not related to the financial need of judges to remain in the workplace but rather to ease the growing problem of judicial recruitment. His view is that the upper age limit for the judiciary should be increased to 75 years of age.
“I have been for some time pressing for changes to age limit. It’s a bit odd that it’s being reduced at the time retirement ages elsewhere are going up”.
Of concern is the warning from the Judicial Appointments Commission who stated that vacancies for crown court and high court judges are increasingly unfilled due to a shortage of suitably qualified applicants.
In a recent judicial attitudes survey, many judges are considering their positions on the bench as they feel poorly paid, undervalued and in fear of their personal safety. An erosion to their once golden plated pension is causing further disquiet. In the past year, six high court posts couldn’t be filled and the judicial appointments commission is seeking up to 140 new crown court judges. A crisis looms.
Lady Hale, deputy president of the supreme court, explained that nine posts would open up at the supreme court before 2020 due to the current provision that justices have to retire at the age of 70. By contrast, the eligibility age criteria to serve on a jury was recently raised from 70 to 75.
The call to raise retirement age is gaining political support with Bob Neill MP, chair of the justice select committee calling upon the Ministry of Justice to ‘re-visit the retiring age of senior judiciary, which, at 70, runs against the behaviour of much of the rest of society and our economy’.
With the demand upon the judiciary to be part of the Brexit re-negotiation with Europe, perhaps the justice secretary, Liz Truss, should be reminded of the saying: old judges never retire they just lose their appeal.
Britain’s most senior judge is pressing for members of the judiciary to be allowed to sit beyond 70 to tackle a problem of recruitment. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, 69, president of the Supreme Court, told the Lords constitution committee yesterday that he had urged that the limit be returned to 75.