Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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The Jury's out on Tribunal Reform

Kingsley Napley

The Government has been aiming to reduce the cost of the tribunal system as well as reduce the number of claims that reach the tribunal.

Unfortunately, recent figures revealed by the Ministry of Justice have shown that these attempts are yet to bear fruit. Figures released last week showed only a two percent decrease in the number of single claims coming through tribunal. There is also still a backlog of half a million tribunal claims.

Experts believe that the backlog of cases waiting to go through the tribunal system could take years to clear. A partner at Kingsley Napley, a London law firm, Andreas White, said: "With George Osborne dramatically squeezing the tribunal budget, there is no way they can deal with this backlog. There needs to be a lot more resources but they will be hard to get this as it costs over 70 million to maintain the current tribunal system."

The claims that are causing the backlog consist mainly of multiple claims. As the name suggests these often involve a range of issues and can be complex cases to deal with. As a result actions in the claims are often deferred, which is why there is such a backlog now. There are five hundred and fourteen thousand, three hundred of such claims in the system at present. With issues still remaining in them, they are not yet ready for a final hearing in the tribunal so cannot be progressed. A number of these claims are of the same kind of issue. They include more than 200,000 resubmitted Airline Working Time Regulations claims (from the BA strike actions), of which approximately fifteen percent also having a Wages Act component. There are also a number of equal pay claims against local authorities and the NHS.

While the number of claims overall did fall from 2011/2012, this was because the number of multiple claims had fallen. White commented that it would definitely take a while to clear the backlog even though he believed that there would be a general decreasing trend. He suggested that the only way to clear the backlog, which is full of very complex multiple cases, would be to take more money from taxpayers.

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