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Employment Tribunal reforms announced

The Government has announced new measures to simplify the Employment Tribunal process.

According to Government figures, there were 186,300 Employment Tribunals cases between April 2011 and March 2012. It is estimated that employers face average costs of £3,900 and each case costs the tax payer £1,900. The proposals could save the tax payer £0.42 million and businesses £0.28 million.

In November 2011 the Government commissioned Mr Justice Underhill, former President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal to lead a fundamental review of the rules of procedure for employment tribunals.

In its response, which has now been published, the Government sets out plans to streamline the tribunal process and make it easier for parties to navigate.

The proposals include:

  • new strike out powers to ensure that weak cases that should not proceed to full hearing are halted at the earliest possible opportunity;
  • guidance from the Employment Tribunal Presidents to help ensure that judges deal with hearings in a consistent manner which ensures parties know what to expect;
  • making it easier to withdraw and dismiss claims by cutting the amount of paper work required; and
  • a new procedure for preliminary hearings that combines separate pre-hearing reviews and case management discussions.This will reduce the overall number of hearings and lead to a quicker disposal of cases saving time and costs for all parties.

It is expected that the new rules will come into force this summer.

The government is also publishing an update report Employment Law 2013: progress on reform which sets out its vision of a flexible, efficient and fair labour market. The report outlines key achievements to date and looks ahead to future work on the government’s Employment Law Review.