The government has outlined its response to judicial recommendations for changes to the employment tribunal rules.
Lord Justice Underhill, the departing President of the England and Wales Employment Tribunals, made a number of proposals to change the current procedures in order to make them more streamlined.
Key changes include introducing an “early sift” stage where unmeritorious claims could be kicked out at the outset with a minimum of cost to parties and the system. The recommendations also proposed that the two types of initial hearing, Case Management Discussions and Pre-Hearing Reviews, be combined into a single Preliminary Hearing which should be held via telephone where possible.
The government’s response overwhelmingly adopts Underhill LJ’s recommendations, although it has rejected the proposal that legally trained “judicial officers” carry out some of the tribunal’s functions to free up judges’ time. A revised version of the new rules will now be published and is expected to come into force in summer 2013 to co-incide with the introduction of fees to raise tribunal claims.