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Published date: Thursday, 20 September 2018

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NSW judges and magistrates will be able to serve on the bench of courts until they are 75 under new laws to harness the judicial expertise of our finest legal minds for longer.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the maximum retirement age for all judicial officers will increase by three years, up from 72.

“The change reflects social trends towards people living and working longer, and will allow experienced judges and magistrates to continue to contribute to the justice system when they’d otherwise be forced to retire,” said Mr Speakman.

“It will expand the talent pool for appointments by making the judiciary a more attractive career option for lawyers with appropriate experience and dedication to serving the community.”

The reforms will also enable retired judicial officers to be appointed as acting judges and magistrates for fixed periods until the age of 78, up from 77.

Currently, around 40 per cent of District and Supreme Court judges don’t leave the bench until they’ve reached the mandatory retirement age of 72, with many returning as acting judges.

“This indicates many judges are hanging up the wig and gown when they still have the skills and desire to preside over courts,” Mr Speakman said.

Judges appointed after the new legislation commences will be able to access their pension at the age of 65, instead of 60. (Magistrates do not receive a pension.)

It will continue to be a requirement that (absent ill health) judges serve at least 10 years on the bench in order to receive the maximum judicial pension upon retirement. The change in retirement age will decrease the average number of years that judges receive the pension which is expected to reduce the state’s financial liabilities.

“The reforms reflect our changing attitudes to age discrimination in employment and will deliver significant savings to taxpayers by utilising a judge’s experience for longer,” Mr Speakman said.

For consistency, equivalent retirement and pension provisions will apply to future NSW Directors of Public Prosecutions and Solicitors General.

The new legislation will be introduced into Parliament in the coming weeks.