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Consultation on magistrates’ retirement age

Judicial retirement age

24 July 2020
Consultation on magistrates’ retirement age

The government has published a consultation on raising the mandatory retirement age for all judicial office holders, including magistrates.

The consultation identifies a number of factors that are relevant in identifying the most appropriate mandatory retirement age for judicial office holders. These include ensuring effective resourcing of the courts, the need to promote diversity, and ensuring that judicial independence and public confidence in the judiciary are protected.

The consultation paper sets out three options for discussion. The first is raising the mandatory retirement age to 72. The second is raising it to 75. The third is to allow magistrates’ appointments to be extended beyond the mandatory retirement age when there is a need to do so. This third option could be in addition to, or instead of, proposals to raise the mandatory retirement age.

You can read the consultation paper here. The consultation is open until 16 October 2020 and the MA will be surveying members in the next few weeks to inform a response.

Separately, a Private Members’ Bill to raise the retirement age for magistrates from 70 to 75 has been introduced in the House of Commons by Edward Timpson MP.

In his speech in support of the Bill, Edward Timpson quotes the MA’s National Chair John Bache saying ‘We are rapidly heading for the perfect storm in the magistrates court. The backlog is increasing while the number of magistrates continues to fall, yet we are discarding those magistrates most able and willing to address this crisis’. While Private Members’ Bills rarely get through parliament without government support, we are grateful to Edward Timpson for putting the Bill forward and will monitor its future progress carefully.

The Bill is due to receive its second reading in the House of Commons on 11 September 2020.

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