The British Medical Association (BMA) is taking the government to court to challenge the secretary of state's decision to cap the pensions of GPs.
Leave has been granted for a judicial review of Patricia Hewitt's decision to limit the pensions of family doctors, despite agreement in the new GP contract on how pensions would be calculated.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA's GPs' Committee, said: "There is a very important principle at stake, which is that when the government makes agreements it should stick to them. GPs are angry about the imposed cap on their pensions because they feel they have kept their faith with the new contract and the government has broken theirs.
"We are very pleased that the court has allowed us to challenge the government on this unjustified breach of the original agreement. The government's decision is depriving doctors of the pension we believe they have a legal right to receive."
He added: "Most GPs are self-employed. They pay both the employers' and the employees' contributions into the NHS Pension Scheme. The pensions they have accrued are in fact delayed pay, resulting from a contract agreed by the government with the profession. For the government to say they cannot have the pension they have earned and paid for is a denial of their contractual rights."
On the possible timescale of the judicial review, Dr Meldrum said: "We understand the procedure will be fairly protracted and it seems unlikely we will have a result before the end of the year."