The European High Court of Justice has ruled that Britain’s compulsory retirement age can stand, though only so long as it served a "legitimate" aim related to social or employment policy.

Prompted by a case brought before the Luxembourg court by UK charity Age Concern, which argued that enforced retirement at the age of 65 represents age discrimination, the judges noted that employers are still permitted to treat staff differently in some instances.

The court concluded that requiring a person to stop work at a certain age does not amount to discrimination, so long as the move is "objectively and reasonably justified by legitimate aims, such as those related to employment policy, the labour market or vocational training".

Despite this ruling, the final decision on enforced retirement ages in the UK will still lie with a British judge.

Meanwhile, around 260 cases are still pending in UK employment tribunals, with thousands of pensioners likely to seek compensation for unfair dismissal should the High Court eventually rule that compulsory retirement based purely on age is unjustified.