A recent ruling by the government that it had been unfairly discriminating against part-time fee-paid judges means that thousands in the legal profession could be able to claim back extra fees. The government has set up a special unit called the Judicial Pay Claims Unit (JPCU) to deal with any fee claims.
The move to allow fee claims comes after the conclusion of an employment tribunal case. Judge Macmillan ruled that the Ministry of Justice, who had only been paying a half-day fee for attending training events, were in effect discriminating against part-time, fee-paid judges. The tribunal also concluded that the way daily rates were calculated was also discrimination. The case affected fees paid to many part-time judges, deputy district judges and people entitled to London weighting payments and holiday pay.
The deadline has recently passed for those affected by the new ruling to submit their claims to the JPCU and the government is updating claimants on progress by posting press releases on the Ministry of Justice website. This decision to increase fees comes in the wake of a decision made by the Supreme Court back in 2013 which found that part-time judges should be classed as workers under the terms of the EU Part-Time Working Directive. As such, they are entitled to the same terms of service as people working full-time. Legal wrangling over backdating pension claims is still ongoing.
The Ministry of Justice could not say how many judges were affected by this new ruling, or how much it has set aside to make the additional payments. The MoJ spokesperson said the way fees were paid has been amended in the light of recent judgements, and that in order to try to keep costs down as much as possible for the taxpayer, they would fight on through the courts.
Some retired judges feel it unfair that it is the judges themselves who have to take the initiative and claim what they are owed rather than the MoJ simply paying what is due. The MoJ countered by sayin that they had set up the JPCU to deal with claims, and it was up to individuals to choose whether to claim or not.