Tag Archive: employment tribunals

Employment tribunal developments

In the last week, we have seen a couple of developments relating to employment tribunals which will be of interest to employers. The first relates to a new online register of employment tribunal judgments; the second is the publication of the Government’s response to its consultation on transforming the justice system.

Online employment tribunal judgments

HM Courts and Tribunals has now launched its online register of employment tribunal judgments, (some time after its initial announcement about the planned availability of this service back in June 2016). The register is available here.  This is the first time that there has been a central register of judgments at employment tribunal level.  At present, the number of cases available on the new online service is limited, mainly covering cases in 2016 and 2017 (with a small number of 2015 cases). It is anticipated, however, that all new cases will be available on this register going forward. EAT judgments are still available through the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website.

Government publishes response to its consultation on “Transforming our justice system”

Reform of the courts and tribunals system has been on the agenda for some time. Back in July 2016, Lord Justice Briggs published his final report on the Civil Courts Structure Review which contained a number of comments on the employment tribunal system and referred to the potential for a new Employment and Equalities Court (see sections 11.11-11.21).

Then, on 15 September 2016, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice, and the Senior President of Tribunals issued a joint statement on their shared vision for the future of Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Service. The statement highlighted that the case for reform of the tribunals system is “compelling” and that there is a plan to create “one system, one judiciary” with better quality outcomes.  By 2020, therefore, it is proposed that tribunals will be part of a single justice system with a single judiciary. The statement said that “tribunals will be digital by default” but with help in place for anyone who needs it – and that the needs of people who use the tribunals will be “put at the centre”, allowing all parties better quality, faster and less stressful resolution of claims.

At the same time as the publication of the joint statement, the Ministry of Justice published a consultation paper, Transforming our justice system. The consultation sought views on making the justice system faster and easier to use.  In relation to employment tribunals specifically, the proposals were limited with the consultation paper indicating that reforms being adopted elsewhere in the justice system (eg streamlining procedures, more decisions ‘on the papers’, more virtual hearings, simplifying panel composition etc) could be applied to the employment jurisdiction. The consultation generally asked for views on 3 specific elements:

  • Assisted digital facilities;
  • Online conviction and statutory fixed fine; and
  • Panel composition in tribunals.

The consultation received 790 replies and the Government’s response was published last week. Unfortunately there is no specific reference to the employment tribunal system but the response indicates that support (in the form of a national network of accessible, quality assured assistance alongside telephone and webchat services) will be put in place for any digital solutions eg services which are moved online. We shall have to wait to see how developments progress.  For now, despite the current lack of information, it seems certain that change is firmly on the agenda.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.dlapiperbeaware.co.uk/employment-tribunal-developments/

The Scotland Bill’s proposed impact on Employment Tribunals: have your say

Summary

At present, the UK Government retains powers in relation to employment law and the operation of Employment Tribunals in Scotland. This means that the same rules and procedures apply to tribunals throughout the UK. As recommended by the Smith Commission, proposals have now been put forward to devolve the management of employment tribunals in Scotland to the Scottish Government. Powers relating to employment legislation will remain with the UK Government.

The Scottish Government has issued a consultation paper summarising their proposed changes.  We are currently drafting our response to the consultation paper and are eager to include the views of our clients and contacts as part of this process.

The proposals

The Scottish Government’s proposals envisage that employment tribunals in Scotland would cease to exist as a separate and distinct form of tribunal.  Instead, they would be incorporated as part a unified tribunal structure applying across all Scottish tribunals, albeit they would still be dealt with by specialised judges.  No mention has been made about Employment Tribunal fees, however, in devolving the tribunal system the Scottish Government would gain the power to remove the current fees regime. It is worth noting that there are also proposals in England & Wales which suggest making significant changes to the way in which Employment Tribunals operate.  This raises the prospect that procedure north and south of the border could become significantly different in a short space of time.

A Scottish case – to be or not to be?

A key aspect of the proposed devolution is the identification of what amounts to a Scottish case which should be dealt with under the devolved process.  Whilst this would be apparent in the vast majority of cases, there will be many examples where there is the potential for dispute.

In order to deal with such cases, the draft legislation provides for both “Scottish cases” (where the employer is based in Scotland, the acts of complained of took place in Scotland and the employee normally works in Scotland) and “Concurrent cases” where some link can be shown to Scotland (under the current proposals this might only need to be that the company “carries on business in Scotland”).

Scottish cases must be heard in the new Scottish tribunal, whilst concurrent cases may be heard in Scotland.  In relation to the latter we assume that determining this point would require a preliminary hearing.

The Scottish Government and BIS have already conceded that their proposals are flawed and require further thought.  Given the Scottish Government’s suggestion that fees will be removed under a devolved system, it will important to have a clear and fair means of identifying jurisdiction to avoid claimants south of the border using Scotland as a cheaper alternative.

Consultation

The Scottish Government has issued a consultation paper summarising the proposed changes which it is looking to implement.  It has also posed the following two questions in relation to the proposed drafting as well as a general request for comments on the proposals:

  1. Do you consider that the provisions of the draft order adequately reflect what is a Scottish case? and
  2. Do you feel that the provisions of the draft order appropriately define those cases that have a sufficient connection to Scotland?

We are looking to put together a consultation response from the firm.  Whilst this will reflect our own views and opinions on the proposals, we would also like to incorporate the views of our clients and contacts as part of the process and we would welcome your comments.  Any comments which you provide will be treated confidentially and we will not disclose you or your Company’s name as part of our response unless you are happy for us to do so.

The consultation is due to close on 24 March 2016.  We would therefore ask that you provide us with your comments by no later than 4 pm on 22 March 2016.

Full details of the current proposals and a copy of the Scottish Government consultation paper can be found here. For more information please contact Kate Hodgkiss, Julie Simpson or Euan Bruce

Permanent link to this article: http://www.dlapiperbeaware.co.uk/the-scotland-bills-proposed-impact-on-employment-tribunals-have-your-say/