Employment Tribunal – Road Map 2022-23
The Presidents of the Employment Tribunals have published a ‘road map’ for listing and hearing cases for 2022-2023 in the face of the ongoing challenges presented by the Covid-19. There are two key areas of reform that have been proposed.
The road map acknowledges that, in response to Covid, there has been a significant reliance on video hearings, for example in some places in the UK over 90% of hearings are still by video. The reform seeks to reduce the reliance on video hearings on the basis that justice is best experienced by most litigants in a face-to-face environment. Although, the road map accepts that, in some cases, a video hearing reflects the preferences of the parties and legal representative and can be less costly and disruptive to the lives of the participants. However, the general consensus is that video hearings will be reduced.
Despite the reduction on video conferencing technology within Tribunals, the road map intents to take longstanding paper-based processes and make them digital. It is believed that having an electronic system of case data will better serve the judiciary, staff and system users. An example of this, is the creation of the MyHMCTS Portal which will be used as the primary means of communication with the Tribunal.
The default position for listing cases in 2022-2023 is as follows: –
• Preliminary hearings listed in private for case management purposes will continue to default to telephone or video. This is likely to become permanent
• Preliminary hearings in public to determine a straightforward preliminary issue (e.g. time limits in an unfair dismissal case) will continue to default to video. This is likely to become permanent.
Complex preliminary points requiring more detailed evidence (e.g. the application of TUPE) will make greater use of in-person hearings.
• Preliminary hearings to consider an application to strike out or for a deposit order will continue to default to video. This is likely to become permanent.
• Applications for interim relief will continue to default to video. This is likely to become permanent.
• Judicial mediations will continue to default to video (in some parts of England, telephone mediation will continue). The Presidents will keep a close eye on outcomes to determine whether this becomes permanent.
• Final hearings of short track claims (unpaid wages, notice, holiday pay, redundancy pay, etc) will, for the time being, continue to default to video. However, subject to local estate resources, there will be greater use of in-person hearings where the case involves significant disputed evidence.
• Final hearings of standard track claims (unfair dismissal) will vary. The Presidents wish them to return in greater numbers to in-person, especially where the case involves significant disputed evidence. In parts of the country where the backlog is greatest, final hearings of standard track claims will continue to default to video.
• The Presidents’ firm wish is for final hearings of open track claims (discrimination and whistleblowing) to default to in-person. This may not be achievable in areas with significant backlogs or lack of hearings rooms.
• Other hearings listed specifically to deal with applications for reconsideration or costs/expenses will default to video. This is likely to become permanent.
The road map accepts that different regions may need to implement reform at different speeds due to the variable resources available to Employment Tribunals. Every case will be open to a judge to decide that the default position should not apply and a party will always be able to apply to the Tribunal to request that their hearing is held using a different format.
To read the road map in full, please see Click Here