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SELDON v CLARKSON WRIGHT & JAKES

In light of case law of the European Court of Justice which made a distinction between the tests for justification of direct and indirect discrimination, the court considered the correct approach to justifying direct discrimination on the ground of age, particularly a mandatory contractual retirement age.

30 April 2012

The appellant (S), a former partner in the respondent firm of solicitors (C), appealed against a decision ([2010] EWCA Civ 899, [2011] 1 All E.R.770) that his compulsory retirement had been lawful.

In accordance with a partnership deed, S had been compulsorily retired when he was 65 years old. He brought a claim for unlawful direct age discrimination. The employment tribunal found that he had suffered less favourable treatment because of his age, but that it was justified because the retirement policy pursued the legitimate aims of giving associates an opportunity of partnership within a reasonable time and therefore an incentive to remain with the firm; facilitating workforce planning by knowing when vacancies were to be expected; and limiting the need to expel underperforming partners, thus contributing to a congenial and supportive culture. The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld that decision, but directed that the case be remitted for consideration of whether the aims could...

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