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New Tribunal Procedure Rules

On 8 October 2020, the snappily titled Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Early Conciliation: Exemptions and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 come into force.

This is the first major amendment to the Employment Tribunal (ET) Rules in seven years. It has been brought about to help the ET system process claims quickly in light of an already existing backlog of cases that has been made much worse by the additional strain placed on HM Courts & Tribunal Service by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Since ET fees were abolished in 2017 there has been a surge in the number of claims being brought and the system has been unable to cope, not least because of a lack of qualified Employment Judges. This has resulted in claims that would have previously been resolved in months sometimes taking over a year to work their way through the system.

Some of the key amendments are listed below:

  • The rules will be changed in order to allow for greater use of video hearings to take place. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of video hearings has increased significantly and allows the tribunal to have greater flexibility.
  • Non-employment judges will now be deployed to hear claims in the ET, provided that these judges meet certain criteria. This will help the system deal with increased demand and reduce unnecessary delays.
  • The ACAS Early Conciliation process and the tribunal rules are to be amended in order to allow greater flexibility in terms of minor errors.
  • The ACAS Early Conciliation period will also be extended from four to six weeks to help ACAS cope with the high volume of cases it is dealing with.
  • Legal officers will now be able to carry out some of the administrative tasks of Employment Judges such as accepting and rejecting claim forms, extending time limits for acceptance of the ET3 and giving permission for claims and responses to be amended. This should give Employment Judges more time to hear claims.

All of the proposed amendments have the goal of increasing both the efficiency and capacity of the ET. The new tribunal procedure rules will come into force on 8 October with the changes to Early Conciliation coming into force on 1 December.

If you have any questions about the ET process or the changes to the rules, please email or call our Employment Law team today on 0113 207 0000.


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Paul Kelly

Partner and Head of Employment
Employment Law
0113 227 9249
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Paul Kelly Blacks Solicitors LLP