Tribunal changes update

31 August 2012

 

Under the new system, there will be two levels of claim. For ‘Level 1’ claims, such as failure to make a redundancy payment, unlawful deduction of wages, etc., the issue fee (to have an ET1 accepted) will be £160 and the hearing fee (expected to be payable four to six weeks before the hearing date) will be £230. For ‘Level 2’ claims, including unfair dismissal, whistle blowing, equal pay, discrimination, etc., the issue fee will be £250 and the hearing fee will be £950.

Announcing the fees, which will be payable initially by the Claimant, Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said:

“We want people, where they can, to pay a fair contribution for the system they are using, which will encourage them to look for alternatives.”

Financial penalties on employers

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, currently passing through the House of Commons, will give tribunals the power to impose a penalty on employers (a fine going to the Exchequer) of 50% of any award to the Claimant, subject to a minimum of £100 and maximum of £5,000, where there are “aggravating features” in the employer’s case, with a 50% discount for payment within 21 days.

Pre-tribunal Acas conciliation

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill also provides for a mandatory period of pre-tribunal Acas conciliation to allow the parties to reach a settlement before the issue becomes a ‘tribunal claim’. Claimants generally only have three months from the triggering event in which to present a claim at an employment tribunal, and this time limit will be extended to allow for pre-tribunal conciliation.

‘Fundamental review’ of employment tribunal rules

In November of last year the government asked Mr Justice Underhill, the outgoing President of the EAT, to lead a ‘fundamental review’ of the employment tribunal rules. His recommendations have now been published and include:

  • Case Management Discussions and Pre-hearing Reviews to be combined and re-labelled ‘Preliminary Hearings’.
  • Cases to go through an initial paper sift, to consider directions and the striking-out of weak elements of a case.
  • Giving power to limit oral evidence and submissions, and to impose a time limit on elements of the hearing.
  • Removing the current £20,000 cap on the tribunal’s power to assess costs.

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