After a number of years of consultation and discussion, new Employment Tribunal Rules have now come into effect from the 29th July 2013. Whilst the new fees payable will attract most of the headlines, there are significant changes to other procedures aimed at giving the Tribunal more flexibility to deal with claims promptly and efficiently with a view to making the whole process better for Applicants and Respondents alike.
There is now a requirement to pay fees at various stages in the litigation process in order to proceed, or to apply for a fee remission if on a low income and eligible. These stages include: (i) presenting a claim; (ii) making certain interim applications; and (iii) proceeding to a final hearing. The fee is set at different levels depending on the type of claim.
One of the major changes is the introduction of a sift stage where the Tribunal will consider whether the claim (or response) should be struck out because the claim (or response) has no reasonable prospects of success because there are no arguable complaints (or defences) or the Tribunal lacks the jurisdiction to hear the same. The new Rules enable the Tribunal to strike out a claim at any stage of the proceedings, which means it is even more important that the pleadings are drafted comprehensively in the first place.
Presenting a claim
If the claim is not presented correctly it will result in the claim being rejected. The claim could be rejected if it is not made on the prescribed form, if it does not contain the name and address of each claimant and respondent or if the claim is not accompanied by the payment of a fee or a remission application.
Applying for an extension of time to present a response
Under the new rules, a respondent will now be able to apply for an extension of time to present its response either before or after the original 28 day deadline. This gives the respondent a lot more flexibility. A notable change to the rules is that if the deadline to present the response has passed, the respondent will no longer be required to show that it has a reasonable prospect of successfully responding to the claim or part of it. There is also no longer a requirement for the respondent to explain why it cannot comply with the original time limit.
There has been a relaxation of the rules on default judgment. The tribunal will now no longer automatically issue a default judgment if a response has not been received by the 28 day deadline. The employment judge will decide whether they can determine the claim from the information they have before them, or from further information they can request the parties provide, or whether a hearing is still required.
Withdrawal and dismissal of claims
The new rules mean that where a claim or part of it has been withdrawn, the respondent no longer needs to make an application to dismiss the claim as the Tribunal will automatically issue a judgment formally dismissing the claim.
Get in touch
For further advice and information on dealing with claims before the Employment Tribunals or the various services offered by our Employment Law Team please call 01244 354697 and ask for Tim Polding or 01244 354667 and ask for John Loney.