Mr Justice Underhill, the former President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, has presented his recommendations for reforming employment tribunal procedures, including proposals for an initial sift stage for employment judges to review every case after the claim form and response have been received.
The Government asked Underhill J to carry out a "fundamental review" of the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure, with the intention of producing a streamlined procedural code that addresses concerns that the Rules have become "increasingly complex and unwieldy over time".
Underhill J has recommended that, rather than amend the existing Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure, they should be redrafted from scratch in a more accessible way. However, the basic structure will remain. Underhill J's recommendations include that:
- there should be an initial sift stage at which every case will be reviewed by an employment judge after the claim form and response have been received, with a view to:
- considering what directions are required to get the case ready for a final hearing; and
- striking out at an early stage claims or responses that have no reasonable prospect of success;
- the distinction be removed between case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews, which has led to unnecessary technical complications; and
- a specific rule be introduced allowing tribunals to set timetables for oral evidence and submissions and to enforce them where necessary.
Underhill J also undertook to redraft the current prescribed tribunal claim and response forms, which will be supplied shortly.
A formal consultation on the Underhill Review will follow later in 2012.
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