Still a long wait for a Tribunal hearing, admits MoJ
The average waiting time for a first hearing at an employment tribunal is around a year. This was admitted by the Ministry of Justice in answer to a written question in Parliament. In detail the MoJ reported that in the year to March 2021 (the latest data currently available) the average time from receipt of the ET1 to a first hearing, whether preliminary hearing or disposal of the case was 335 days for single claims and 388 days for multiple claims.
The admission comes as the latest figures on ET has jumped 17 per cent over the past year. This is significantly faster than the 7 per cent rise in the years immediately preceding the pandemic with most observers putting this down to increased employment law risks in the period since 2020.
The reason for the delay in providing more up to date figures is because Employment Tribunals have moved to a new case management system and the work to incorporate the new IT system alongside longer-established data sources is yet to be completed.
The Courts service is also coming to the end of a pilot scheme that will see the introduction of a new Video Hearing Service. This will replace the Cloud Video Platform, that has been used fairly successfully to date and should, if it works as intended, help bring down the waiting times significantly. CVP itself has been praised by the Employment Tribunals President in England and Wales in managing to restore the ‘disposal rate’ to its pre-pandemic level. Looking ahead, it is anticipated that Tribunals will continue to be heavily reliant on CVP and its successor for at least the next two years.
In Scotland all Tribunal locations now have the equipment to allow hearings to take place in a ‘hybrid’ format, although the Tribunals President doesn’t envisage video hearings becoming the norm. While they have ‘pros’, there are also ‘cons’ as research and survey result from stakeholders show that whilst they might be good for getting through cases quickly, they are not always the best way to achieve justice.