This consultation seeks views on proposals to reform judicial pension arrangements. Like the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) we intend to consider and modernise the provisions in the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993 (JUPRA) (hereafter described as the ‘reformed scheme’) for future accruals, so that any new pension scheme would be in line with the Hutton principles but also non-registered for tax purposes. Both judges who are accruing benefits under the existing provisions of JUPRA or its fee-paid equivalent, the Fee-Paid Judicial Pension Scheme (FPJPS) and those who are members of the 2015 scheme, the Northern Ireland Judicial Pension Scheme (NIJPS), would transfer into the reformed section of the scheme and accrue benefits under it. The reformed scheme features are outlined in this consultation document. It is important to note that pension benefits that have already been earned would be protected and, for those currently in final salary schemes, these benefits would be linked to their salary when they retire or leave judicial office.
The Public Service Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 introduced a statutory framework for reform of public service pension schemes. Following consultation with the judiciary and a public consultation exercise, NIJPS was established under the Judicial Pensions Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015.
For most judges, membership of NIJPS is less financially beneficial compared to the legacy schemes. This is primarily because NIJPS is a registered scheme for tax purposes, meaning members are subject to annual and lifetime allowance limits on the tax-relieved benefits accrued within the scheme.