Proposed changes to the Employment Tribunal and Civil Court system

The Law Commission has published its long-awaited report on Employment Hearing Structures which recommends reform to the employment tribunal and civil court systems.   It has been recognised that there is an awkward area of shared and exclusive jurisdiction which has led to anomalies between the civil courts and employment tribunals.  The Law Commission has also made it clear that employment tribunals were designed to have different characteristics to the civil courts and its recommendations to a degree reflect those characteristics and the specialist nature of the employment tribunal.

There are a total of 23 recommendations, the most important of which are as follows:-

  1. All time limits for employment tribunal claims be extended to six months. Most claims currently have a three-month time limit;
  2. There is a single test for extending time in all claims on the basis as to whether it is just and equitable to do so instead of the ‘reasonably practicable’ test;
  3. Time for bringing an equal pay claim to be extended where it is just and equitable to do so;
  4. Expansion of the jurisdiction of the employment tribunal in breach of contract claims and a recommended increase in the value of such claims from the current £25,000 to £100,000;
  5. Expansion generally of the jurisdiction of the employment tribunal to hear contractual claims to workers as well as employees, to include those breaches that arise during the course of employment and not just those at the termination of employment, and can include hearing claims relating to post-termination breaches;
  6. Employment judges to hear discrimination claims in the civil courts and creating a specialist list in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court to deal with employment and discrimination claims. This will include restraint of trade, confidential information, equal pay and industrial action injunctions;
  7. The High Court specialist list would also deal with appeals from the County Court in goods and services discrimination claims and from any other employment related cases;
  8. Employment Judges to lend their expertise to the County Court in discrimination cases;

This is welcome news and if implemented will produce an updated employment tribunal system combined with the expansion of employment law claims into the civil court system.

If you have any questions then contact Steven Eckett – Partner and Head of Employment at Meaby & Co LLP