Employment news, Research perspectives

Tribunal backlog worsens as judges accused of failing to use powers to dismiss claims

Employment tribunal (ET) judges have been criticised for not exercising their power of early dismissal for claims unlikely to succeed despite a growing backlog of cases.

Judges are able to dismiss a claim that is out of their jurisdiction, or that they believe has no reasonable prospect of success, before it reaches a hearing using a procedure called Rule 27.

However, figures from the Ministry of Justice showed judges did not use this power in any of the 94,330 new cases received by ETs in 2018-19. The data, analysed by law firm GQ Littler found the backlog of claims has increased by 39 per cent to 26,664 in the year to 31 March 2019, up from 19,116 in the previous year. It also found that waiting times had increased for four years in a row, with the average case taking eight months (237 days) to be heard.

The law firm warned that judges not exercising their powers was not only contributing to the worsening backlog of claims, but could result in employers being distracted from more important management issues due uncertainty over claims.