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Seldon case dismissed by Supreme Court

25th April 2012

A landmark age discrimination claim has been dismissed by the Supreme Court, averting a rethink of the government’s recently relaxed retirement age legislation.

Lesley Seldon, who was partner at a Kent-based legal practice until being forced to leave at the age of 65, argued that his departure was unjustified and that he was the subject of victimisation.

Supreme Court Justice Baroness Hale, however, accepted the firm’s reasons for having its own mandatory retirement process – namely, that compelling partners to step down ensured fresh faces were kept at the top of the company and that more lawyer jobs are opened up to younger solicitors.

Despite this, the court has sent the case back to a separate Employment Tribunal and added that businesses must provide evidence that enforcing a default retirement age has a tangible benefit to the operation in question. Baroness Hale rejected the idea that the process can be warranted simply by businesses stating that their methods are in the public interest.