A High Court judge has given LLG (Lawyers in Local Government) and ALACE (the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers) permission to bring a judicial review challenge over the Exit Payment Cap Regulations.
Quentin Baker (pictured), President of LLG, said: “We are pleased that this important issue which has a potentially significant impact upon our members’ pension benefits will be subject to full consideration in the High Court.”
Ian Miller, Honorary Secretary of ALACE, said: "We are pleased that our claim with Lawyers in Local Government has been granted permission to proceed to a full hearing. Deep concern about the regulations is shared widely across unions in the public sector, and it is important that the courts now clarify whether the Government will have to change its approach."
Deborah Evans, chief executive of LLG, said: “In a year when local authority key workers have given their all, LLG has fought to preserve pension rights for those suffering redundancy at a late stage in their career, rights which were purportedly stripped away by the Exit Cap Regulations. LLG has fought for clarity for local authorities undertaking large scale restructures in the midst of conflicting legislation. The granting of permission to apply for judicial review gives us all a glimmer of hope that common sense and justice may prevail in 2021.”
When they announced the legal challenge in November, the two organisations said the move came “amidst confusion caused by the Exit Payment Cap Regulations clashing with the requirements of the Local Government Pension Scheme” and “in the absence of any indication from HMT or MHCLG that they will take action to address the procedural and substantive legal flaws”.
LLG and ALACE have taken advice from Nigel Giffin QC on the claim. They said the 11KBW barrister had identified a number of "clear procedural flaws" in bringing the regulations forward and also substantive issues as to the basis on which the regulations had been made, some of which also affect the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s draft pension regulations on which consultation has not yet concluded.
LLG said that up to 86% of officers facing redundancy over the age of 55 were likely to be adversely affected.
The group also claimed that at a time when local government needed to transform the way it provided services, this retrospective removal of a key employment benefit would hamper attempts to reorganise council services.
LLG and ALACE said that the Government could choose to remove the pension strain from the calculations completely, or the changes could apply solely for future pension contributions, protecting those rights earned to date.