CBI Tribunal Report ‘Highlights Need For Consistency In System’

Legal Experts Comment On New Recommendations To Speed Up Process


By Rob Dixon

Employment law experts have said new suggestions put forward to improve the tribunal system are already in place in many areas, but warned that a level of consistency is needed to ensure all parties are fully aware of what to expect from the process.

In its new The Right Balance – Delivering Effective Employment Tribunals, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has put forward proposals which it says will lead to a “wholesale culture-change” in the relation to the system.

Among the proposals put forward are calls for judges to shorten hearings by discounting irrelevant evidence, limiting evidence bundles and also placing the responsibility for tribunal policy under the control of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills instead of the Ministry of Justice.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist employment law team has broadly welcomed the recommendations, but said that many of the more practical suggestions are already considered in some areas.

Glenn Hayes, a Partner and employment law specialist based in Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, said: “To a large extent, many tribunal systems already undertake a lot of the suggestions put forward by the CBI. For example, some areas do stipulate a maximum number of pages in bundles or a word limit in witness statements.

“In addition, others are focused on the need for certain witnesses and refuse to hear evidence if it is seen to be irrelevant to the issues to be decided.

“However, it must be noted that the practice does tend to vary from region to region. The difficulty lies with those that do not do this, as well as those which do not do so proactively enough.

“The introduction of a clear and consistent approach to this would prove beneficial not only to those bringing and defending cases, but also those responsible for making decisions in relation to them. A proper, clear structure could go some way to removing some of the concerns over complexity, clarity and speed of the current system.”

Glenn added: “Another key concern is the over-management of cases. Tribunals can prove to be as complex and as formal as court proceedings, so it is important that all of those involved get ample opportunity to give their evidence and have their arguments heard.

“As the title of the CBI report states, this is all about getting the right balance.  If this happens, then this can only be a positive move.”

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