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Important changes to Employment Tribunal rules

on Thursday, 28 March 2024.

In anticipation of the digitisation of the Tribunal process, amendments to the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure (ET Rules) will come into effect on 6 April 2024.

Sending the claim form to the respondent

Currently, lots of judicial time is lost when claimants include incorrect addresses for respondents on their claim forms. When this happens currently, Tribunals send the notice of claim documentation to the (incorrect) address specified in the papers. This often results in respondents missing the 28 day deadline to file their response. Respondents in this position have to apply for an extension of time. This takes up valuable Tribunal resource.

From 6 April 2024, when sending a copy of a claim form to a respondent, a Tribunal will be able to send the form to an address which differs from that provided by the claimant. If it does this, the Tribunal may also direct that the 28-day time limit for the respondent to file its defence starts from the date that the Tribunal sends the form to the alternative address. This amendment should reduce the number of respondents who receive Tribunal papers only after the deadline to respond has passed.

Requirement to present a response in compliance with a Practice Direction

This amendment is geared towards boosting the number of respondents who file their response to a claim through the online system. This is currently optional but dealing with paper or email responses takes twice the time to process compared to those submitted online. There is therefore a strong desire within the Tribunal Service to improve efficiency and remove paper-based systems.

From 6 April 2024, Tribunals will be able to require responses to comply with any requirement specified by a Practice Direction. This will enable Tribunals to compel responses to be filed online in most cases.

Copying correspondence to other parties

Under the current ET Rules, parties are required to copy their Tribunal correspondence to the other party or parties in the matter, and must confirm they have done so. As the new online system is designed to automate this process, the requirement to manually copy correspondence in this way will be removed where the party uses the online system in compliance with a Practice Direction.

We are expecting Practice Directions relating to these changes to be issued shortly.

For more information or advice, please contact Alice Mennell in our Employment team on 020 7665 0914, or complete the form below.