Following a review of the existing tribunal rules of procedure by Mr Justice Underhill, and consultation on a proposed set of revised rules last year, the final version of the new rules has been published and will take effect from 29 July 2013.
The new rules are intended to be clearer, more concise and easier to understand than the current rules. Key changes are as follows:
- A new sift stage will take place, once the ET3 has been submitted by the Respondent. An employment judge will decide whether all or part of any claim should be struck out, on the grounds it has no reasonable prospects of success.
- Case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews will be combined into one ‘preliminary hearing’, to deal with any administrative, procedural or preliminary issues.
- The rules relating to the withdrawal of a claim will be simplified, removing the need for a claim to be formally dismissed once it has been withdrawn.
- The current cap of £20,000 for the award of costs will be removed.
The Government has announced that on the same date as the new procedural rules are introduced, the new requirement for fees to be paid on the issuing of employment tribunal proceedings and in subsequent applications to the tribunal will also take effect. Fees will likewise be payable for any appeal to the EAT.
Fees will be payable (by the claimant) both on the issue of a claim and prior to the hearing; the applicable rate of the fee dependent on the complexity of the claim and whether it is a ‘level 1’ or ‘level 2’ claim. Additional fees are payable for various other types of application, generally by the respondent (for example, to set aside a default judgment or to apply for judicial mediation).
The tribunal will be able to reject any claim not accompanied by either an issue fee or remission application (for those with low household incomes or capital). Once a claim is accepted the tribunal will be able to strike it out at a later stage if the relevant fee is not paid in time.
Fees will not be payable in respect of any claim where the ET1 (or appeal to the EAT) has been lodged prior to 29 July 2013. It is intended that fees will only be payable online or through a centralised processing centre, not in person at the tribunal.
Proposed changes to the existing fee remission system for courts and tribunals have recently been the subject of a separate consultation exercise. The Government’s response has not yet been issued and the proposed date for changes to the system has not yet been confirmed.