12 Jul 2012

Recommendations Submitted to Streamline Employment Tribunals

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Mr Justice Underhill, the former President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, has submitted his recommendations to the Government for reforming employment tribunal procedures which aim to streamline the process, improve understanding and cut costs.

There is an overall recommendation that the procedures should be redrafted from scratch rather than simply amended in order to make them more accessible. In addition, he has proposed that there should be an initial sift stage at which every case will be reviewed by an employment judge after the claim form and response have been received. This is intended to not only consider what directions are required to get the case ready for a final hearing but also provide the opportunity to strike out at an early stage claims or responses that have no reasonable prospect of success.

The other recommendations include:

  • that separate case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews will be combined in order to avoid unnecessary technical complications and which may, in some cases, provide a quicker resolution.
  • that employment judges will provide advice and direction to give all parties in a dispute a much better idea of what to expect from the Tribunal process and equally, what is expected of them. This should allow those parties to give more serious consideration to other possible resolutions.
  • that the withdrawals process is changed so that if one party ends the dispute at tribunal, the other does not have to signal their intention to end the claim.

Currently there are proposals from a number of parties to reform either employment tribunals or processes related to them. The recommendations of Mr Justice Underhill seem straightforward, have an effective tool to stop weak claims and place an emphasis on early settlement which, in turn, should minimise costs for employers

The recommendations are to be placed into the full consultation process.

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