Consultation on the mandatory retirement age for judicial office holders

Closed 16 Oct 2020

Opened 16 Jul 2020

Results updated 9 Mar 2021

The consultation on the Judicial Mandatory Retirement Age ran from 16 July to 16 October 2020. The consultation sought views on proposals to raise the mandatory retirement age (MRA) for judges, magistrates and coroners from 70 to 72 or 75.

While the MRA remains an important requirement of judicial office to protect judicial independence, preserve public confidence in the judiciary, and promote diversity, it is time the MRA is amended to reflect increases in life expectancy, societal changes and the demands on our courts and tribunals. 

The majority of the more than 1000 responses to the consultation were in favour of increasing the MRA, although there were different views on whether the new MRA should be 72 or 75. After careful consideration, we have decided to raise the MRA to 75 to enable our courts and tribunals to retain for longer the expertise of experienced judicial office holders and to attract a greater number of talented and diverse applicants. Increasing the MRA gives judges, magistrates and coroners greater flexibility in both when they apply and when to retire. Changing the MRA requires parliamentary approval, which we will seek as soon as parliamentary time allows.



The UK justice system is known across the world for its excellence, objectivity and impartiality. This is due, in no small part, to the exceptional expertise of our courts and tribunal judges, our coroners, and our valued magistrates. Our independent judiciary uphold and exercise the rule of law every day, often on the most difficult legal, technical and sometimes moral issues of our time, underpinning the foundation of our democracy, and helping safeguard fairness and freedom in our society. It is a role that requires expertise and experience and a drive to serve justice and the community.

A mandatory retirement age preserves the independence of our judiciary by alleviating the need for individual assessments of health and capacity. This in turn ensures that judicial office holders cannot be removed at the whim of the Executive and provides security of tenure until retirement. Furthermore, a mandatory retirement age promotes the growth of diversity across judicial office holders as by ensuring that regular recruitment can be planned to maintain a steady flow of new appointments. New appointees to judicial office are, on average, more diverse than older incumbents.

The retirement age for most judges was last legislated for 27 years ago, and the time is now right to consider whether the age of 70 continues to achieve its objective of balancing the requirement for sufficient judicial expertise to meet the demands on our courts and tribunals whilst safeguarding improvements in judicial diversity and protecting the independence of and confidence in our judiciary.

As Lord Chancellor, I have a duty to provide resources for the effective operation of our courts and tribunals. It is therefore important that the policies which may impact upon the appointment and retention of judicial office holders are reviewed to ensure that they are able to meet our changing requirements. The proposals in this consultation are intended to support the resourcing required for the effective operation of courts and tribunals.

Published alongside this consultation are separate consultations on the Government response to the McCloud Judgment and proposals for a reformed pension scheme. A consultation on amendments to the Fee-Paid Judicial Pension Scheme was also published recently. Taken together these proposals mark a significant step change to ensure that we can continue to recruit and retain the world class judiciary for which we are so rightly renowned.


The Right Honourable Robert Buckland QC MP

Lord Chancellor & Secretary of State for Justice



  • Coroners
  • Judiciary


  • Judicial appointments