Further changes to employment tribunals from April 2012

The Employment Tribunals Act 1996 (Tribunal Composition) Order 2012 

This amends the composition of employment tribunal hearings for unfair dismissal cases to be heard before ‘a judge sitting alone’.

Parties will still be able to request a panel of three members (as currently) but this request will be accepted or rejected at the judge’s discretion. This simplification is only applicable to unfair dismissal cases.

Amendments to Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2004 

These amendments, aimed at deterring unwarranted claims by employees or defences by employers are as follows:

  • Where a judge considers that a claim has a limited chance of success at an employment tribunal, the maximum limit at which deposit orders can be made (prior to the case proceeding) is increased from £500 to £1,000.
  • The maximum limit at which judges can award costs to either party is increased from £10,000 to £20,000.
  • Where currently witness statements are read out aloud by witnesses in the employment tribunal hearing, thereby leading to longer duration of cases and costs, they will now be ’taken as read’ i.e. as they have been exchanged prior to the hearing, it will be assumed that the parties are familiar with them. However, a judge still has discretion to ask for them to be read out aloud if deemed necessary.
  • Automatic witness expenses will no longer paid.