Law Commission consultation on employment law hearing structures

by Laurie Anstis on September 28, 2018

As anticipated, the Law Commission has now set out its full consultation on ’employment law hearing structures’.

This consultation looks at the way in which the employment law jurisdiction (and also discrimination claims outside the employment field) is split between the employment tribunal, EAT and civil courts.

The Law Commission says ‘the scope of this project should … be to propose the removal of discrepancies in the light of several decades of experience of the employment tribunals system‘, but rules out consideration of an ‘Employment and Equalities Court’ as being outside its remit.

Although this may appear to be simply a consultation about technical points, there is a lot in the consultation that could substantially affect employment law and practice. For instance, there are questions around whether the three month time limit for employment tribunal claims should be changed, and whether ‘reasonably practicable’ extensions of time should be replaced with a general ‘just and equitable’ extension.

The consultation goes on to ask whether non-employment discrimination claims should be heard in the employment tribunal, and recommends lifting the £25,000 limit on the employment tribunal’s jurisdiction for breach of contract claims. It questions whether breach of contract claims should be allowed in the employment tribunal where the individual is still employed, and suggests that ‘workers’ should be allowed to bring breach of contract claims in the employment tribunal.

Further questions ask whether the employment tribunal should have jurisdiction to consider common law claims in respect of employment references, and to apportion liability between respondents to a discrimination claim. It also recommends the establishment of an informal specialist employment list in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court.

The consultation is open until 11 January 2019.