Fighting for fair pensions


Robin Allen QC, Rachel Crasnow QC and Tamar Burton appear in the Supreme Court this morning in the two cases of O’Brien and Miller and ors v Ministry of Justice, which concern discrimination of part-time workers in the calculation of pensions. The issue for the Court is whether the period of service prior the coming into effect of the relevant Directive should be taken into account in calculating the amount of pension to be paid.

Mr O’Brien was appointed as a Recorder sitting part-time on the Western Circuit on 1 March 1978, an office he held until 31 March 2005. He is entitled to a pension by virtue of the Part Time Workers Directive (97/81/EC) which the United Kingdom was required to transpose into domestic law by 7 April 2000. Mr O’Brien launched a claim in the Employment Tribunal, contending that he was entitled to have his service prior to 7 April 2000 taken into account in the calculation of the amount of his pension. The Employment Tribunal issued a decision in Mr O’Brien’s favour on this issue; on appeal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal allowed the Ministry of Justice’s appeal; and the Court of Appeal agreed with the Employment Appeal Tribunal and dismissed Mr O’Brien’s appeal. Mr O’Brien now appeals to the Supreme Court on this issue.

Mr O’Brien, together with the Miller appellants, contended in a separate appeal that their claims of unlawful discrimination were not made out of time. The Court of Appeal held that, in view of its decision in the first O’Brien appeal, the claims were made out of time.