PSA to appeal High Court McCloud judicial review dismissal

The Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA) is heading to the Court of Appeal in a bid to prevent proposed changes to public service pension schemes being implemented in April, after the High Court previously dismissed a judicial review claim.

The PSA's claim against HM Treasury and the Home Office sought to challenge the decision to close legacy public sector pension schemes and move all current members to reformed pension schemes from 1 April 2022, and the consultation process behind this.

The changes were intended to address age discrimination issues, after the High Court ruled in 2018 that transitional provisions in the 2015 pension reforms that benefitted those closest to retirement amounted to unlawful age discrimination.

In particular, the PSA argued that the closure decision breached a “substantive legitimate expectation” that police could remain in final salary schemes until retirement, and that the consultation process was unlawful and had breached the equality duty.

However, the High Court dismissed the claim, rejecting the error of fact challenge from PSA and accepting the Treasury’s argument on parliamentary privilege, seeking not to do anything, directly or indirectly, that would delay the passage of a bill through parliament.

The court acknowledged that the decision to close the legacy public sector pension schemes before receiving a summary of the consultation was in breach of public sector equality duty and a breach of the requirement to give conscientious consideration to the consultation responses.

However, the judge concluded that relief should be refused on the basis that it was highly likely the outcome would have been the same if the decision-maker had considered the consultation responses, because the closure decision was the strongly preferred policy position throughout.

Despite this, the PSA has confirmed that a group of staff associations are now seeking leave to appeal on the grounds that the government has not lawfully consulted before the planned pension changes take place.

PSA national secretary, Dan Murphy, said: “The PSA took the government to judicial review because it was the only option to be heard and to achieve procedural justice.

“The court found that during the only opportunity to provide our views on the government’s planned changes to our pensions, we were ignored, and that the government also ignored the equality issues raised by the 3000+ respondents.

“The PSA has had no contact from the government in response to the findings, despite us sharing the serious impact this situation is having on our members and the wider workforce.

“We have shared our concerns with the other UK staff associations, who have agreed to support the PSA to take our case to the Court of Appeal to seek relief and force the government to remedy the situation."

The government is currently facing a number of judicial review claims in High Court in relation to concerns that workers are being made to pay for the McCloud remedy, with the Fire Brigades Union, the British Medical Association, the Prison Officers Association and the Royal College of Nursing, among the unions taking legal action.

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