At the same time as various other changes in employment law on 29 July 2013 (see the July issue of HR Headlines), the new Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure came into force. The new rules govern employment tribunal practice and procedure across England, Wales and Scotland. They were devised following a review of the current system by Justice Underhill who is a former President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The aim was to reduce the burden on the tribunal system, to speed up the process and to cut red tape. In practice, the impact of the rules to the HR community is likely to be small. However, an important change to be aware of is the introduction of a new 'sifting stage' triggered when a claim is submitted. It is now the case that, at the very outset, every case will be reviewed by an Employment Judge on paper to confirm there are arguable complaints and defences within the Tribunal's jurisdiction and that the case has a reasonable prospect of success. As this process will be conducted without the involvement of the parties and on the papers only it is ever more important for the ET3 form and accompanying grounds of resistance to be drafted carefully and in as much detail as necessary.  Under the new rules, Case Management Discussions and Pre-Hearing Reviews have now been replaced with a simpler consolidated Preliminary Hearing. It will now not be necessary to attend two small hearings prior to the substantive hearing as all case management issues and any preliminary applications will be dealt with together. There are also new Employment Tribunal Forms ET1 (Claim Form) and ET3 (Response Form) which have a fresh appearance but are broadly similar in content. The new forms together with the guidance notes are now available on the Ministry of Justice website.

http://www.justice.gov.uk/forms/hmcts/employment