Mr Justice Underhill, the former President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), has finally published his recommendations for reforming employment tribunal procedures.
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'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.