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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Age Discrimination Advice Moseley

The Supreme Court has given its judgment in the case of Seldon v Clarkson Wright and Jakes (A Partnership). This case concerns the scope for justifying direct discrimination on the ground of age and in particular a mandatory retirement age contained within a partnership agreement.

Mr Seldon joined the Respondent law firm in 1971 and was made an equity partner in 1972. In 2005 he and the other partners in the firm agreed and adopted a partnership deed which (like earlier deeds) provided that, subject to the partners’ agreement to the contrary, partners who attain the age of 65 had to retire from the firm by the end of the following December. Mr Seldon reached the age of 65 on 15th January 2006. Realising that he would need to continue working beyond this point, he asked the other partners to extend his tenure.

The proposals were rejected on the basis of there being no sufficient business need. The partners did however offer Mr Seldon an ex gratia payment of £30,000.

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, came into force in October 2006, and Mr Seldon informed the partners that he was considering his rights under these. The partners then withdrew their offer of an ex gratia payment. Mr Seldon issued proceedings alleging, under the Age Regulations, that his forced retirement was an act of direct age discrimination and that the withdrawal of the offer of an ex gratia payment was an act of victimisation.

The Tribunal found that the mandatory retirement age of 65 was a proportionate means of achieving the firm's legitimate aims and therefore rejected the discrimination claim (but upheld the victimisation claim).

The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the Employment Tribunal had failed to consider whether the aims could have been met by a retirement age other than 65 and remitted the case on that point alone. The Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Seldon’s appeal. He then appealed to the Supreme Court. 

The Supreme Court has now unanimously rejected the appeal and remitted the case to the Employment Tribunal to consider whether the choice of a mandatory age of 65 was a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aims of the partnership.

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