The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has today announced that the judicial mandatory retirement age will increase from 70 to 75 for judges, magistrates and coroners.
The change comes after the conclusion of the consultation on Judicial Mandatory Retirement Age (MRA) in October 2020. The announcement signals the first change in MRA for 27 years, needed to ‘reflect increases in life expectancy, societal changes and the demands on our courts and tribunals’.
The MoJ stated that most responses to the consultation were in favour of raising the MRA, though views differed on whether the MRA should be 72 or 75. However, it said that increasing the MRA give judicial officeholders greater flexibility in both when they apply and when to retire.
The MoJ also said it wished to attract ‘a greater number of talented and diverse applicants’. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC, said: “… mandatory retirement age promotes the growth of diversity across judicial office holders as by ensuring that regular recruitment can be planned to maintain a steady flow of new appointments”.
It has been widely reported that the courts have been under strain as a result of the pandemic, and the retention of experienced judicial office holders will also help support the judicial system at this particularly challenging time.
The Lord Chancellor commented: “As Lord Chancellor, I have a duty to provide resources for the effective operation of our courts and tribunals. It is therefore important that the policies which may impact upon the appointment and retention of judicial office holders are reviewed to ensure that they are able to meet our changing requirements.
He added: “The proposals in this consultation are intended to support the resourcing required for the effective operation of courts and tribunals.”
Changing the MRA requires parliamentary approval, and the MoJ confirmed that this will be sought as soon as parliamentary time allows.