Employers could have powers to forcibly retire employees at 65, the Supreme Court has ruled, throwing into doubt the abolition of the default retirement age.
A court ruling, handed down today, dismissed an appeal from a partner at a law firm who was forced to retire at age 65, saying the firm was right in its use of age discrimination to remove the man.
The ruling said "all businesses will now have to give careful consideration to what, if any, mandatory retirement rules can be justified".
The abolition of the DRA came into force in October and removed the right of firms to forcibly retire employees at state pension age.
Lobby groups such as the Confederation of British Industry contested the change, calling them "counter-productive".
The Supreme Court today ruled the case must go back to the Employment Tribunal to see whether a clause in the law firm's deeds ruling partners should retire at the age of 65 was proportionate.
Allen & Overy partner Stefan Martin said: "There is now Supreme Court authority for the proposition that a compulsory retirement age was justifiable on a workforce planning ground. It does open the door slightly for employers if they wanted to move back towards a compulsory retirement age.
"But there is a big caveat which is this case does not give the authority to say in any circumstances employers will be able to justify this. You would need to look at specific circumstance and determine whether it would be justifiable."
The case revolves around the dismissal of a partner at firm Clarkson Wright & Jakes in 2006.
The partner, Leslie Seldon, wanted to work until the age of 68 due to financial issues but other partners dismissed the request.
The Employment Tribunal ruled it was a legitimate and proportionate for the firm to do this.
Seldon appealed the ruling and the Supreme Court has now dismissed his appeal.
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