Lawyers jump into the fray to back judges in pension feud
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Lawyers jump into the fray to back judges in pension feud

Attorneys threaten to eschew courtroom appearances pending a resolution to dispute over justices' retirement packages

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: An Israeli courtroom. (Nati Shohat/ Flash90)
Illustrative: An Israeli courtroom. (Nati Shohat/ Flash90)

Israel’s bar association could reportedly launch a partial strike in support of the country’s judges, who are protesting over a change in their pension plans that they say is preventing justices from retiring and preventing new appointments.

After a meeting Tuesday night, the Israel Bar Association said its attorneys will halt all court appearances after the upcoming Passover holiday if there is no progress on the solution to the matter, the Hebrew-language Yeditoh Ahronoth daily reported Wednesday.

If the strike goes ahead it would create a backlog in court proceedings across the country.

Israel Bar Association Chair Efi Naveh said it would be the first time the body has taken such action.

“Many years of discussions and chatter in various committees were unhelpful and did not yield a solution, and the ones who are paying the price are the attorneys and the litigants,” he said. It is time to take action… This is an underlying problem that must be resolved as soon as possible.”

Naveh called on Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to resolve the issue.

Attorney Effi Naveh, chairman of the Israel Bar Association, in Tel Aviv, August 30, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Attorney Effi Naveh, chairman of the Israel Bar Association, in Tel Aviv, August 30, 2016. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The dispute began several years ago when the pension plans for judges were switched from a non-contributory system to accrual pensions — similar to other civil servants such as those in the defense industry — in which pensions depend on years of service on the bench.

The judges argue that, unlike other civil servants, they are only appointed to their positions late in their careers, a fact that impacts the size of their eventual pension payments. Judges are seeking a package that would compensate them for any losses due to the gaps between the pension systems.

As a result, judges have become reluctant to retire, a state that is hindering the appointment of new justices, the report said.

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