New employment tribunal rules – the Underhill review

by Laurie Anstis on July 11, 2012

Last year, Mr Justice Underhill was commissioned to undertake a fundamental review of the employment tribunal rules of procedure.

His report back to the government has been published today. The draft rules have not yet been made public [update: now available here]. They will be subject to further consultation later this year, but from the report it is apparent that:

1) The rules are being redrafted from scratch, in an accessible style.

2) The rules will be short, and supplemented by non-binding Presidential guidance on how they ought to be applied to particular situations.

3) There will be an initial sift, to take place after receipt of the Respondent’s response “with a view to (a) considering what directions are required in order to get the case ready for a final hearing, and (b) striking out at an early stage claims or responses (or parts) which have no reasonable prospect of success”.

4) Case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews will be combined in a new all-purpose “preliminary hearing”.

5) There will be power for a tribunal to impose binding timetables on hearings.

6) Although there are no plans to change the costs rules themselves, it is suggested that the limit on the costs which the tribunal can assess itself (currently £20,000) will be lifted, so that tribunals can award higher levels of costs without needing to refer the assessment to the county court.

Thanks to Craig Gordon for spotting this.