Boost to capacity in tribunals system

Business Minister Paul Scully has announced reforms to the tribunal system to enable them to hear more cases, welcome news for any workers and self-employed people with employment status cases pending. According to the announcement the reforms will: ensure a speedier resolution of cases; increase the range of judicial expertise; and allow a greater use of virtual hearings.

In addition, the £80 million boost for HM Courts and Tribunal Service to meet the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic will be spent on:

  • Employing 1,600 new staff
  • Setting up more temporary Nightingale Courts
  • Further rollout of technology to hear more cases remotely

Other changes include allowing legal officers to carry out administrative tasks currently undertaken by judges, refining rules to enable more flexibility to handle minor errors, and allow multiple claims to be heard simultaneously when it is essentially the same dispute. Taken together, it is hoped that all of these changes will have a positive impact on speeding up resolutions.

The reforms are clearly necessary as latest figures show the backlog of cases has almost doubled in two years, leaving some people waiting 6 years for their cases to be heard. According to the HM Courts and Tribunal Service on average single cases are completed in under 32 weeks, although figures show waiting times of up to 332 weeks for the London South Employment Tribunal.

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