In November 2011, Mr Justice Underhill (former president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal), was asked by the Government to conduct a fundamental review of the existing Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure. This review has now been completed and a new set of draft Rules has been published, which will be the subject of a formal consultation later this year.
The new draft Rules are intended to be more straightforward and easier to understand, particularly for unrepresented parties. They are written in simpler language and are less than half the length of the existing Rules.
Some of the key proposed changes are as follows:
• Introducing a new ‘sift’ process at an early stage of the claim, aimed at identifying weak cases and dismissing them without a full hearing if they are regarded as having no reasonable prospects of success;
• Combining the existing separate case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews into ‘preliminary hearings’;
• Requiring tribunals to give reasons for all decisions on disputed issues;
• Allowing tribunals to set strict timetables for oral evidence and submissions;
• Simplifying the rules relating to default judgments;
• There will be no change to the substantive criteria for the award of costs or making deposit orders, but the new Rules will remove the current cap of £20,000, above which costs awards must be referred to the county court for assessment (meaning that tribunals will be able to assess costs above that limit themselves).
There will also be new versions of the prescribed claim (ET1) and response (ET3) forms, which will also be subject to consultation later this year.
A copy of the new draft Rules is available here