Section 22 of Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012

The AJI wishes to draw attention to section 22 of Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012, which has recently become law. The effect of this provision is that newly appointed judges, at whatever level, will henceforth have to serve for 20 years to qualify for a full pension, rather than 15 years as is the case for existing judges of the Supreme Court, High Court and Circuit Court respectively. Heretofore, only District Court Judges were required to serve 20 years in order to qualify for a full pension. A further change is that newly appointed judges will be required to pay a pension contribution of 13% instead of the 4% contribution payable by existing members of the judiciary.

The AJI was not consulted on the new terms imposed by s. 22 for future appointees to the bench. 

The Association has grave concerns at the changes that have been brought about by the provisions of s. 22 of the Act.  The extension from 15 to 20 years of the term which must be served before a full pension entitlement is acquired has considerable consequences for both quality and experience of future candidates for appointment to the bench.  The AJI would point out that even after a 20 year term it is unlikely that a retiring judge would be paid a pension equal to one half of salary at retirement.

The Association also has concerns about the cumulative effect of the increase of 9% in the pension contribution rate, coming on top of the pension levy of 10% introduced in 2009 and the special 4% contribution for officeholders introduced in 2010.  In this regard the Association would like to point out that the reduction in judicial take home pay between 2009 and the present is as follows:-

Existing Judges
Supreme and High Court Judges 33.1%
Circuit Court Judges 32.6%
District Court Judges 29%

Newly Appointed Judges
Supreme and High Court Judges 45.5%
Circuit Court Judges 44.9%
District Court Judges 42.3%

We would also point out that Ireland has the lowest number of judges per 100,000 inhabitants of 47 countries surveyed by the European Commission.