Responding to on-going concerns about the length and costs of proceedings in employment tribunals, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is consulting on proposals to limit the number of times parties can be granted postponement of a tribunal hearing.  The consultation runs until March but there is no indication of when the proposed changes will take effect.

The tribunal rule amendments, currently going through Parliament as part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, would limit postponements to two per party per case.  A further request would be granted only in exceptional circumstances.

In addition, there will be a deadline for postponement applications.  A request for a postponement made less than seven days before the planned date of the hearing will also only be granted in exceptional circumstances, unless the tribunal itself thinks postponement is desirable to aid settlement, or the need for a postponement is caused by the tribunal itself or the other party.  Where a successful request for a postponement is made less than seven days before a hearing, the tribunal must consider whether to make a costs or preparation time order.