The government’s proposals on employment tribunal postponement procedures do not appear to be based on enough evidence, the Law Society has said in response to a consultation document.
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills wishes to limit parties to two postponements per party per case except in exceptional circumstances.
In the two-year period to 31 March 2013, some 67,750 hearings were postponed, the government says.
According to the consultation document, one concern about the tribunal system voiced by stakeholders is the time it takes to resolve a dispute. Unnecessary and short notice postponements, it said, can increase the length of the process and lead to additional costs.
But in a letter to the department, Laurie Anstis, chair of the Society’s employment law committee, said if length of time was a major issue, the department should produce an evidence-based consultation showing where these delays happen, explain the reasons for the delay and propose solutions across the system.
'There is no evidence to suggest that the proposed solution… is related to the cause of the concern,’ Anstis said.
'When a judge allows a postponement to happen it’s normally for good reasons. The consultation says that 80% of postponement applications come from claimants, but no context is given to this figure. For instance it would be useful to know how many of the postponements BIS would class as unnecessary.’
Limiting the number of postponement requests would also ‘militate against’ the current practice of being able to list straightforward cases effectively, and discourage use of ‘fast track’ listing, Anstis added.