The Civil Justice Council has recommended to the Lord Chancellor the introduction of a new regime for collective actions brought by individual litigants or representative bodies (such as unions or the Equality and Human Rights Commission). If implemented, the proposals are likely to increase the risk of collective actions for large employers.

Claims could be on an opt-out or opt-in basis and the Council has suggested that equal pay and discrimination claims would be well suited to an opt-out system (where all employees in a particular class would be included in the action unless they opt-out). The limitation period for claims would be suspended for a defined period where a party issues a claim seeking certification as an opt-out collective action. This could potentially include within the action many more employees who at the moment might miss the relatively short time limits applicable to employment claims. The opt-out procedure is also likely to increase the number of employees claiming.

Further details are included in our litigation ebulletin available here.