As part of the Government’s measures to reform the Employment Tribunal system, regulations have now been laid before Parliament and will come into force in April 2012.
These include an increase to the figure the Employment Tribunal can impose by way of costs – from £10,000 to £20,000 – and also by way of a deposit order (to be paid by the Claimant in weak cases) – from £500 to £1,000. These are aimed at trying to help the system weed out claims with little merit, but in order for them to have an effect, the judges will need to be much more prepared to use the powers open to them. Even at today’s lower values, it is still relatively rare for costs awards or deposit orders to be made.
In addition, Regulations have been passed to allow judges to sit alone when hearing unfair dismissal cases. This appears to apply to claims issued after 6 April 2012, and not just hearings which take place after this date. As we explained at our recent seminars, it is our view that the lay members who currently form part of the Tribunal panel are key to giving the Tribunal an insight into a real workplace. However, their cost has been deemed to outweigh their benefit.
For advice on this or any other aspect of employment law, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected])