Heyday case against UK mandatory retirement age is not damaged by European Court of Justice ruling on Spain

Lawyers representing Heyday have insisted that its case against the UK’s mandatory retirement age has been helped rather than hindered by the failure of a similar claim in Europe.

The European Court of Justice seemed to have sounded the death knell for the Heyday case last week when it rejected a claim that the Spanish retirement age was illegal.

Several legal experts said Heyday’s case seemed doomed after the Palacios v Cortefiel Servicios SA case.

But Kate Fletcher, a solicitor at law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing Heyday, claimed the ruling could actually help the charity’s case.

“Previously, the advocate-general said that retirement dismissals were not within the scope of the [EU Equal Treatment Framework],” she told Personnel Today. “Now, the court has ruled they are – and that countries must have justification for introducing mandatory retirement ages.”

The Spanish government was able to argue that its retirement age was justified in improving employment opportunities for the young. Heyday claims the UK government has produced no evidence of such a justification.

Heyday has encouraged people forced into retirement at 65 to lodge age discrimination claims against their employers pending a European judgment. A decision is not expected until the end of 2008 at the earliest.

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