New employment tribunal "road map" published for 2021/22
A new "road map" has been published for employment tribunal proceedings in 2021/22.
The majority of hearings will continue to be conducted remotely, but there are also a number of forthcoming developments including the launch of a "virtual region" in April. This will be able to hear cases generated in any of the ten regions in England and Wales remotely.
Although as things return to normal the view of Presidents of the Employment Tribunals is that justice is best experienced in a face-to-face environment, video hearings will remain essential for at least two years (given the increase in caseload). For cases yet to be listed the default position is that for preliminary hearings the default will be to telephone or video (depending on the issues the hearing is considering). This will also be the case for applications for interim relief and judicial mediations, as well as final hearings of short track claims. For hearings of standard track claims and open track claims the mode of hearing will vary. Some will be in person where this is possible; where it isn't they will default to video. It will be open to an employment judge to decide that the default position should not apply.
As well as the introduction of a new "virtual region" there will be 16 new legal officers starting work in April who will be authorised to deal with all matters falling within their delegated powers.
The Senior President of the Tribunals has published a new Practice direction authorising legal officers to carry out specified functions in the employment tribunals in England and Wales, and in Scotland.
The Practice direction authorises legal officers to carry out certain functions under the supervision of an employment judge, and in accordance with any applicable guidance issued by the President of the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales, or in Scotland. The functions include the rejection of an ET1 where it does not include the required early conciliation information, applications for an extension of time to file a response, case management order applications, and postponement applications where all parties consent. A party may make a written application for an employment judge to review any decision of a legal officer within 14 days of the tribunal sending out the notice setting out the relevant decision.