There have been a few interesting points that have been recently raised in relation to employment tribunals.
As has been to norm for the past 18 months or more, there has been a continuing trend that the number of tribunal claims being brought throughout the U.K has been on the rise since the abolition of fees. The latest figures from the minutes of the September employment tribunal user group recorded a rise of 165% for single claims. This level is still under the level pre-fees but shows another marked upturn in the level of claims. This has created a knock-on effect that claims are being listed further and further into the future, prolonging the process for claimants and respondents alike.
It has been reported that Tribunals in England and Wales are listing longer cases into 2020 and if twitter is to be believed, Croydon and Manchester tribunals are listing longer hearings in 2021. Overall, the time it takes to dispose of a case has now increased by 56% to an average time of 28 weeks.
The situation north of the border is not as desperate, partly due to the appointment of 14 new members to sit as Judges at the start of 2018. There are similar proposals that will hopefully see as many as 60-70 new judges being taken on at various levels in England and Wales but it still remains slightly unclear as to when this process will be complete.
The second development interlinks with the first as a way to streamline the tribunal process. Sir Ernest Ryder (Senior President of Tribunals) has outlined plans to test video hearings for the preliminary parts of a claim in front of the tribunal and ‘simple’ disputes. In some ways this may be a natural progression from telephone hearings and case management discussions that have become relatively commonplace in recent years.
Whilst we remember that, broadly speaking, the principles that underpin the tribunal service are to create a faster, more accessible and less formal forum of resolving disputes than the traditional courts. Whilst there seems to be differing levels of success in achieving this, there does seem to be plans afoot to improve the speed of the service across different fronts.