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Judges' pensions laws discriminatory, say lawyers

Lawyers say the current laws regarding judges' pensions may discriminate against judges' former spouses.

user iconThe New Lawyer 16 October 2009 The Bar
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THE Law Council of Australia is concerned that current laws regarding judges’ pensions have the potential to discriminate against the former spouses of judicial officers.

Law Council President John Corcoran said today: “The operation of the Judges’ Pension Act in divorce proceedings is inconsistent with the Sex Discrimination Act and, according to Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, may also violate the United Nations’ Convention on Elimination of Discrimination against Women.


“What the Act means for the ex-spouse of a judge does not accord with modern conceptions of superannuation law. Under the current legislation, the spouse of a former judicial officer is only entitled to a percentage of the member’s actual pension payments, rather than their own separate fund over which they have control,” Corcoran said.

This has a number of negative implications for the former spouse of a judicial officer. “The Law Council understands that very few superannuation schemes continue to operate in this manner,” Corcoran said.

“In general, we believe that any superannuation schemes that have the potential to discriminate against either party must be closely examined and the problem urgently addressed,” he said.

The Law Council is calling on the Federal Government to address this problem in a timely manner.

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