The Government has published legislation making a further raft of changes to employment tribunal procedure, covering witness statements, costs and deposit orders, and witnesses’ expenses. The changes made in the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure)(Amendment) Regulations 2012 (on the UK legislation website) apply to claims submitted to the employment tribunal on or after 6 April 2012. The changes are:
- Witness statements: For claims submitted to the employment tribunal on or after 6 April 2012, witness statements are normally to be “taken as read”. Unless an employment judge directs otherwise, a witness statement stands as the evidence-in-chief of the witness concerned and is no longer read out in its entirety.
- Deposit orders: Judges can order deposits to be paid only in pre-hearing reviews, with a £500 limit. For claims submitted to the employment tribunal on or after 6 April 2012, employment tribunal judges are able to order claimants at any stage to pay a deposit of up to £1,000 if they believe that weak claims are being pursued.
- Costs orders: The maximum sum that tribunals have the power to award under costs awards and preparation time orders is £10,000. There is no cap for wasted costs orders. For claims submitted to the employment tribunal on or after 6 April 2012, the maximum costs order that can be awarded increases from £10,000 to £20,000.
- Witnesses’ expenses: For claims submitted to the employment tribunal on or after 6 April 2012, the option for parties, their witnesses and any voluntary representatives to apply to an employment tribunal to recover some of the travelling costs and other expenses associated with attending a tribunal hearing to give evidence is removed. However, employment tribunals are able to direct that the parties bear the costs of a witness attending a tribunal hearing where his or her attendance is pursuant to a witness order, and that the losing party reimburses the winning party for any such costs that have already been paid out.