The Government have announced changes to the rules governing Employment Tribunals particularly in respect of Deposit Orders and Cost Awards. These are orders are normally made when the Tribunal consider that a case is unlikely to succeed.
Currently deposit orders, which require a party (either claimant or respondent) to pay a sum of up to £500 as a condition of being permitted to continue to pursue all, or any part, of their respective claim/response, can be made where a judge considers that any contentions put forward by a party have “little reasonable prospect of success”. The amendment under these Regulations increases that £500 cap to £1000. Otherwise, the underlying procedure remains unchanged.
Applications for costs (in Scotland, expenses) can be made at any time during the proceedings. The current maximum sum that tribunals have the power to award for costs is £10,000. Where costs are likely to exceed that upper limit, and an employment tribunal wants to ensure such costs are awarded, it is currently necessary to transfer the matter to a civil court for consideration. Such transfers can be cumbersome and time-consuming. These Regulations increase that upper limit to £20,000. Again, the underlying process remains unchanged.
The rules of procedure have also been amended so that witness statements do not have to be read out but can be “taken as read”, unless the tribunal directs otherwise.