Why has my tribunal hearing been delayed?

Thousands of employment tribunal hearings are being pushed back at short notice, new figures have revealed.

Data obtained by People Management under a Freedom of Information request shows 3,365 hearings were postponed within 48 hours of its scheduled start  between 1 August 2017 and 31 March 2018.

The postponement figure appears to back other data which suggests the tribunal system has been strained since last years’s ruling by the Supreme Court that tribunal fees should be abolished.

Figures published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in June revealed that the number of single claims received in the first quarter of 2018 increased to 9,252, up 118 per cent compared with the year before. In the same time period, the outstanding caseload increased by 89 per cent.

However, an MoJ spokesperson revealed claimants (the employees bringing the claims) requested postponements in 87 per cent of the cases, adding: “Every effort is made to ensure delays are kept to a minimum.”

“There have always been postponements. They cause stress to the parties (and the lawyers). Claims flag, often for months, before everyone has to refocus their efforts for the rescheduled hearing. It is often harder for witnesses to recall clearly events in the more distant past.”

Some tribunals will list more hearings than they have room or judges available because of the high number of settlements and withdrawals.

Last month, the Judicial Appointments Commission closed a recruitment exercise for 54 new employment judges. We hope they will be in position sometime in 2019.

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