Gauke now more open to raising UK judicial retirement age

by Sol Dolor03 May 2019

Lord Chancellor David Gauke is now more open to raising the retirement age of judicial officials in the UK.

In a dialogue with the constitution committee of the House of Lords, Gauke said that his stance has shifted on whether increasing the retirement age from 70 to 72 was appropriate, the Law Society Gazette said.

“I am increasingly of the view that at 70 we are losing a lot of talent that is certainly more than capable of contributing to the judiciary,” he said. “The nature of the role of a judge is one where experience and expertise counts for a great deal. In an environment where life expectancy has increased significantly – six years since 1993 – there is a case for looking at this again.”

The comment echoes those made by UK Supreme Court president Lady Brenda Hale in March, when she said she supported increasing the retirement age.

The change would not be about wringing a couple more years from the current judiciary, but be about attracting lawyers who could be convinced of having a more worthwhile career and further advancement if they knew that the retirement age is 72, Gauke said.

Gauke also admitted that the government is having a hard time attracting judges despite its efforts. This has resulted in more work for those already in the judiciary, he said.

“We are not getting the number of applicants that we want,” he said. “We are clearly short in the High Court at the moment and that shortage is due to increase later this year. We would be short by 18 [judges]. There is a risk that we have a vicious cycle here, because that then increases the workload, which can itself make the experience of being a judge less attractive.”