Employment Tribunal system is on the road to recovery says Alfred Weiss

July 25, 2019

The Employment Tribunal system is on the road to recovery with access to justice slowly being restored – despite the immediate pressures the courts face, says Alfred Weiss, barrister at Exchange Chambers in Leeds.

Figures released this week by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), a resolution services body, show the number of people deciding to lodge employment tribunal claims rose by 40% to almost 40,000 over the 12 months to 31 March 2019.

This research comes after the Ministry of Justice published its latest statistics on employment tribunals this month, showing an overall increase of 8% in the caseload outstanding in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.

According to the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA), the system is struggling to cope with demand with solicitors reporting that employment tribunals are being delayed by months. Over 77% of people who were surveyed by the ELA said that final hearings were being listed over a year after the issue of a claim and more than 66% of respondents said tribunals are taking longer to deal with the service of claims.

While acknowledging the current difficulties, Alfred Weiss believes there are grounds for optimism.

“The system is creaking somewhat due to the volume of claims,” said Alfred.  “It is taking too long for correspondence to be reviewed by a Judge and too long for final hearings to be listed.

“However, a creaking system is far preferable to the situation prior to the abolition of fees in July 2017, when access to justice was severely curtailed by the unlawful fees regime and the number of cases had dropped off a cliff.

“The recent recruitment exercise of both fee-paid and salaried employment judges should have positive impact on the waiting times we are currently experiencing. Access to justice is slowly but surely being restored.”