European Court of Justice signals UK’s mandatory retirement age will survive Heyday challenge

The European Court of Justice today signalled that the UK’s mandatory retirement age will survive the legal challenge against it.

It ruled against a Spanish case – similar to the one filed by UK charity Heyday – declaring that European equal treatment legislation does not overrule national laws allowing compulsory retirement.

This is a boost for employers, who are facing a rash of backdated age discrimination claims from retirees if Heyday wins its case next year.

Rachel Dineley, employment partner at law firm Beachcroft, said: “While Heyday may persist with its challenge regardless of this development, employers can take comfort from what is clearly a sound and sensible view.

“Conversely, employees who had contemplated challenging their employer’s decision to require them to retire on reaching age 65 may reluctantly accept the decision, and recognise that any challenge through the Employment Tribunal is very probably futile.”

The European Court of Justice rejected the claim by Félix Palacios de la Villa against Cortefiel Servicios SA. A decision in the Heyday case is not expected until the end of 2008.

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