County sheriff brings High Court challenge against mandatory retirement

A county sheriff in Co Monaghan has brought a High Court challenge against legislation requiring him to retire when he turns 70 next May.

Castleblayney-based sheriff Seamus Mallon, who is a qualified solicitor, was appointed as a sheriff under the Courts Officers Act 1945 in 1987.

The 1945 Act stipulates that sheriffs must retire from office once they reach 70 years of age.

Mr Mallon is a member of the Sheriffs Association, which last year made a formal submission to the Minister for Justice seeking to have the 1945 Act amended to extend the mandatory retirement age for Sheriffs.

In a reply, issued on behalf of the minister last April, the association’s request was refused.

In his judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General, Mr Mallon claims that the section of the 1945 Act regarding mandatory retirement is discriminatory on the grounds of age.

He also claims that the minister’s decision is flawed due to the minister’s failure to say why the mandatory retirement age for sheriffs should be maintained at 70 years.

Mr Mallon also claims that the minister’s decision is not compatible with EU directives on equal treatment in employment, because the minister failed to provide any objective and reasonable justification for the mandatory retirement age.

In his action, he seeks an order from the court quashing the minister’s decision that requires him to retire when he turns 70 years old in May 2022.

He also seeks a declaration that that section of the 1945 Act is incompatible with EU law, and it the section is therefore null, void and of no legal effect.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice Anthony Barr and made returnable to a date in November.

Tags: Court report

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