A new set of rules has been proposed designed to streamline the operation of Employment Tribunals.
The proposed rules
Mr Justice Underhill, the former president of the EAT, has issued his new draft set of Employment Tribunal procedure rules.
His main focus is on robust case management and he has proposed greater involvement by the Employment Judge at an earlier stage in a case in order to consider directions and suggest which claims might benefit from a strike-out in the event the claim or defence have no reasonable prospects of success.
He has suggested 'presidential guidance' whereby two Employment Tribunal Presidents issue guidance on 'matters of practice' in an attempt to help achieve consistency between different Employment Tribunal regions and judges.
He has also expanded the provisions regarding restricted reporting and anonymity orders to make these orders more flexible and to seek to balance freedom of expression against a request for privacy.
Perhaps most importantly, for the successful party he has proposed the removal of the £20,000 cap beyond which costs currently have to be referred to the County Court and he explains that this "should make the process simpler for beneficiaries of such awards".
The proposed rules are welcome and seem sensible but we must now wait to hear if the Government intends to implement any of them. The lack of standard procedures (for example in the use of case management discussions and standard directions) has long been a problem for users with different regions using different procedures. Many of the criticisms levelled at the Tribunal system could be solved by a consistency of approach across the board. BIS has announced that a formal consultation on the draft rules will take place 'later this year' so it may be some time before the Government responds. We will keep you updated.
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