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New Employment Tribunal Rules for 2013
New Employment Tribunal Rules encapsulated in the Employment Tribunal (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013, Schedule 1 (“the 2013 Regulations”) which came into force in July 2013 seek to simplify and clarify the previous 2004 rules. Key areas covered include:
- The introduction of fees payable by claimants including issue fees, hearing fees and specific application fees, some of which are dependent on the ‘Level’ of the application, which is determined by its nature and value. Claimants may be entitled to full or partial remission of fees depending on their income, but UNISON has already been granted permission to seek a judicial review of the introduction of fees to the Tribunal process, and no doubt this will prove highly contentious in many quarters;
- The introduction of a Rule 3 duty on the Tribunal to encourage parties to consider using ACAS, pushing hard the desirability of mediation at an early stage;
- The standardisation of rules in many areas, and their clarification where regional variations exist in administration of applications and timetables;
- Rule 53 now re-badges case management reviews as ‘pre-hearings’, allowing the preliminary consideration or even determination of a claim;
- Rule 12 rules on rejection will now allow the Tribunal to reject not only those applications which fall outside its jurisdiction, but also those with defects of form or even substance in certain circumstances. There are other Rules which deal with Rectification and Re-submission.
- A second level of ‘sifting’ is applied to a claim under the changes in Rule 26: Initial Consideration, where the Tribunal considers whether the claim contains ‘arguable complaints and defences within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal’. This, like the other ‘sift stage’, includes its own methods of rectification and appeal, but has the advantage and aim of avoiding weak or unmeritorious claims being pursued through the tribunal system with all the associated expense.
The expansion of the Tribunal’s powers to reject claims throughout the application process, along with the renewed emphasis on mediation and settlement, emphasizes its determination to ‘weed-out’ weaker claims. Claimants should, therefore, ensure that their claims are fully explained from the first stage of their application but, even before this, claimants and defendants should actively seek mediation and compromise, not only to avoid unnecessary Tribunal expense, but also to support the strength and merit of any future claim.
If you would like advice on a potential employment issue or claim with a view to achieving a settlement, please contact Lucy Thomas at our Cockfosters Office.