Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure

New rules are intended to streamline the tribunal process. There is an initial sift stage to ascertain whether a claim or response should be struck out where the tribunal has no jurisdiction or there is no reasonable prospect of success. Pre-Hearing Reviews and Case Management Discussions have also been combined into a single ‘Preliminary Hearing’. Furthermore, tribunals are under an obligation to encourage parties to use alternative dispute resolution.

New forms ET1 and ET3 for making and responding to tribunal claims

New forms were published on 29 July 2013.  Claims can now only be submitted online or by post.

Employment Tribunal Fees

Claimants have to pay a fee of up to £250 to lodge an employment tribunal claim and a further fee of up to £950 to proceed to a hearing. There are two levels of fees: level 1 (for claims that requiring little or no case management work) and level 2 (for claims involving more complex issues and longer hearings). In some instances, Respondents have to pay fees, for example for applications to reconsider default judgments. There is a complex remissions scheme for those who cannot afford fees.

Pre-settlement discussions

Evidence of pre-termination negotiations, where no dispute had arisen, is no longer admissible in unfair dismissal cases unless there has been ‘improper behaviour’. An ACAS code of practice accompanies this, as well as additional ACAS guidance.

Settlement agreements

Compromise agreements are now called settlement agreements. There is a new ACAS Code of Practice on settlement agreements too.

Unfair dismissal awards

Compensatory awards for unfair dismissal are limited to the lower of £74,200 or one year’s gross pay (excluding pension contributions, benefits in kind or discretionary bonuses). This cap does not apply to certain automatically unfair dismissals.

Interest

Interest on unpaid tribunal awards now runs from the day after the date the judgement is sent to the parties (the old law was 42 days after the judgment is sent). No interest is payable if the amount due is paid within 14 days. The rate of interest on a Claimant’s losses up to judgment, as part of compensation for discrimination in England and Wales, has gone up from 0.5 per cent to 8 per cent (so England and Wales is in line with Scotland).