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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

No pensions cap for judges

I see that the issue of no pensions caps for judges is in the Queen’s Speech. The rationale is that senior QCs join the bench having a big earnings cut, as practising QCs earn far more than the bench. Judges are excluded from the pensions cap to encourage QCs to join the bench at some stage in their career.There seem to be some practical difficulties with this. Will a QC be allowed to accumulate a pension fund well above the cap on the understanding that he expects to become a judge? Could the QC become a judge for say only the last year of his career? Or will there be some minimum period of qualifying service? If there is a qualifying period, suppose death or ill health occurs before this period has been served.

The value of pension earned as a judge could be enormous if this includes the tax relief in respect of exemption from the pensions cap. The same arguments can be applied to, for example, top scientists. The government may want the best scientific brains to switch at some point of their career from the private sector to the public sector. This could be induced by exempting public sector scientists from the pensions cap.