The Supreme Court has refused the Government permission to appeal against a ruling in which the Court of Appeal concluded that the Ministry of Justice discriminated against judges on the grounds of age, race and equal pay in relation to changes to their pensions.

More than 200 people had challenged the Government’s decision forcing younger judges to leave the Judicial Pension Scheme.

Because of recent drives to increase diversity in the judiciary, many more of those in the younger group of judges are female and/or from a BAME background, and so claims were also successfully pursued for indirect race discrimination and a breach of the principle of equal pay.

Announcing the refusal of leave to appeal, the Supreme Court said that the Government had failed to “raise an arguable point of law”.

Although the case specifically concerned judges, law firm Leigh Day said that the judgment is expected to have an impact on other public sector groups which it also represents as they have seen similar changes to their pension schemes.

These include 13,000 police officers the firm represents and is also expected to apply to other public sector workers who have contacted Leigh Day, such as those employed by the NHS, teachers and prison officers.

It has been reported that this could cost the Government an estimated £4 billion a year.

Shubha Banerjee of Leigh Day solicitors, who is acting on behalf of the judges, said: “The Government’s decision to force younger judges to leave the Judicial Pensions Scheme has been ruled to be unlawfully discriminatory and the Government has no further avenues for appeal. We look forward to these wrongs now being corrected”.

Any public sector workers who feel they have been affected by pension changes are being invited to contact the law firm.

Bindmans solicitor Robert Maddox, who also represented some of the judges, said: “The decision of the Supreme Court to refuse permission to appeal on the grounds that the Government had not raised an arguable point of law reflects the clarity of the Court of Appeal and employment tribunal judgments”.

These judgments show just how poorly executed the Government's pension reforms were, he concluded.

Last reviewed 3 July 2019