Following his review of the Employment Tribunal Rules and procedures, Mr Justice Underhill has released a new draft set of Rules for the Tribunal. The draft aims to simplify the wording of the existing Rules in order to improve understanding for lay users of the Tribunal system. The draft also introduces a number of new provisions recommended in the review, including:-
- The introduction of an initial sift stage where every case will be reviewed by an Employment Judge. This will allow the judge to consider any directions required to get the case ready for a final hearing, as well as allowing the judge to strike out any claims or responses which would have no reasonable prospects of success;
- The removal of the distinction between Case Management Discussions (CMDs) and Pre-Hearing Reviews (PHRs) and the introduction of ‘Preliminary Hearings’ which will deal with both case management and substantive points;
- A provision expressly allowing Tribunals to set timetables for oral evidence and submissions;
- Simplification of the rules on default judgements;
- Expanded provisions in relation to restricted reporting and anonymity orders; and
- The removal of the £20,000 cap beyond which costs awards must be referred to the County Court (England & Wales) or the Sheriff Court (Scotland).
You can download a copy of the new draft Rules here. The Government has indicated that it will consider Mr Justice Underhill’s recommendations but has not yet placed any timescales on its intentions to announce any amendments to Tribunal procedure.