Search rightsnet
Search options







29 September, 2020 Open access

President of the Employment Tribunals ‘deeply troubled‘ by challenge that continued increase in outstanding tribunal caseload poses to delivering justice in a reasonable time

Reporting to a recent Employment Tribunals national user group meeting, Judge Clarke also says that the winding down of the Job Retention Scheme is likely to drive a further increase in claims

The President of the Employment Tribunals (ET) for England and Wales Judge Barry Clarke has said he is 'deeply troubled' by the challenge that the continued increase in outstanding tribunal cases poses to delivering justice in a reasonable time.

Reporting to a recent ET national user group meeting, covering matters relating to the impact of COVID-19 on the ET system, minutes of the meeting describe how Judge Clarke addressed the challenges posed by a rising caseload, highlighting that in the week ending 28 June 2020 there were more than 36,000 outstanding single cases in England, Wales and Scotland, having risen from 30,687 in early March 2020 - just before in-person hearings were suspended as a result of COVID-19 at the end of that month - and 27,000 in March 2019.

Judge Clarke is also reported as setting out his views on the likely future movement in case numbers -

‘As new judges were not coming on stream for a while, he thought it likely that the figure would continue to rise significantly. This would pose huge challenges to the ability of the ET to deliver justice within a reasonable time, which deeply troubled him.’

In relation, to the types of cases that were expected to arise from COVID-19 and the winding down of support measures such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the meeting minutes report that -

'The President sincerely hoped that the CJRS had successfully minimised the effect of the pandemic on the economy, but it nevertheless seemed likely that the ET system would see an increase in claims as the scheme was withdrawn. He speculated that, in addition to pandemic-related claims in fields such as health and safety and whistleblowing, the ET would see an increase in unfair redundancy dismissal claims and many contested protective award claims.’

Finally, having highlighted problems of long delays in some regions for listing cases, with examples of some cases delayed into 2022, Judge Clarke recognises that -

'... there was considerable and understandable frustration in the user community about the speed at which the Employment Tribunals in some regions were operating. But he considered that it was better for users to address those concerns by pressing for more resources rather than criticising judges and staff.'

The minutes of the National employment tribunal user group, June 2020 are available from