On 31st May 2013 The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations were laid before parliament. The new employment tribunal procedure rules come into force on 29th July 2013. Due to the introduction of fees set to commence on 29th July, the new rules of procedure reflect this and other changes.
New employment tribunals rules
A revised version of the new rules has now been published as schedule 1 to the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013, with the exception of enabling regulations which come into force on 1 July 2013, the regulations and the new rules are due to come into force on 29 July 2013.
Changes in the new rules
The new rules are intended to be clearer, more concise and easier to understand than the current rules. The key changes include:
- Sift stage: After the employer’s response (ET3) has been accepted by the tribunal, the claim (ET1) and response will be reviewed by an employment judge to identify any weak cases which can be struck out, in full or in part, having no reasonable prospects of success
- Preliminary hearings: These will replace the existing case management discussions and the pre-hearing review and both will be combined into one preliminary hearing at which administrative, procedural and substantive preliminary issues can be dealt with, rather than two hearings thus speeding up the process
- Withdrawal: The new rules simplify the current two step procedure. Currently the respondent must apply for a claim to be dismissed once it has been withdrawn. The new rules will remove the need for the formal application for dismissal
- Costs: The £20,000 cap on the costs the tribunal can order will be removed allowing tribunals to consider these applications in detail in line with the civil procedure rules
- Fee: The new rule 11 allows the tribunal to reject an application to the tribunal (ET1) if it is not accompanied by the correct fee or a remission application. The new rule 40, which allows the tribunal to make an unless order providing that a claim or employer’s contract claim will be struck out, or an application dismissed, if the relevant fee is not paid, or remission application received, by a specified deadline
- Deadlines: Rule 4(1) has been amended to provide that the time to comply with any deadline specified in the rules is midnight, rather than 5pm in the draft rules. This corrects the anomaly that the draft rules appeared to require a respondent to present its ET3 by 5pm on the last day for doing so
- Witnesses: Rule 44 provides that witness statements must be made available for those in the public gallery. This can provide increased administration costs as at present the public do not currently receive copies.
How does this affect employers?
The new rules are intended to make the system more efficient and user friendly. In reality this is extremely unlikely. The number of tribunal claims will certainly be reduced.
For further information on this or any other employment matter, contact our employment team.