IPSO has paid the pension reform legal costs
IPSO has just paid ca 60,000 EUR of legal fees charged by the ECB on its own staff seeking redress for the unfair pension cut of 2009. 10 years after the reform, the ECB has invoiced its own staff a total amount of 138,000 EUR, reduced by the Court of Justice to 60,000 EUR. This amount was justified by the use of external legal and financial consultants whereas the ECB has a legal department of more than 100 lawyers and is not short of financial experts. In any case, charging legal fees, while permitted by the ECJ rules of procedure, departs from the existing practice so far. It reflects a change in HR management policy aiming at rendering access to justice prohibitively costly and to weaken IPSO, as IPSO finances most of the staff legal cases. This regrettable event is not a one-off, another 10,000 EUR invoice has recently hit our desk – IPSO supported a colleague challenging alleged dubious appointment practices and raising suspicions of favouritism.
Access to justice questioned for ECB staff
The ECB’s new practice deals a serious blow to access to justice for ECB staff. While it is difficult to challenge ECB decisions at court, as the ECB is legislator and almost endowed with absolute power in comparison to other public institutions, it is also very costly for the members of staff concerned when they lose. In practice, a single case often costs 20,000 EUR and more, often with a relatively weak probability of winning. This should deter you from defending your interests. HR senior management claim they are not responsible for the shift in policy and blame the Legal Services for it. This is fairly irrelevant as HR and Legal represent the ECB’s official position. As a matter of fact, IPSO has called for more balance and for setting up internal arbitration procedures – to no avail.
IPSO sees its role as defending its members’ legitimate interests. We are proud to support our members gaining access to justice. We have done so in the pension court case and will continue doing so in future. The ECB finances its legal actions with public money. IPSO finances itself through its members’ contributions. Consider joining IPSO if you believe that the right of accessing justice has to be preserved.