The recent increase in Employment Tribunals – resulting in a backlog of cases – has led to a new recruitment drive to help clear it.
The Judicial Appointments Commission, an independent body that selects candidates for judicial office, is looking to hire 54 new judges following a 90 per cent increase in cases being brought.
The selection process for the new Employment Tribunal judges is set to run until 2 July, with successful candidates expected to have at least five years’ post-qualification solicitor or barrister experience within England or Wales and “current or previous substantial experience” of employment law.
Employment-related claims have hit their highest level since the latter half of 2013, creating the backlog that is now snarling up the system. They had almost doubled during the first quarter following the abolition of tribunal fees and had risen by 90 per cent in the three months up to December 2017, compared to figures from the previous year.
The president of the Employment Tribunal, Brian Doyle, had previously warned of an impending recruitment crisis due to the failure, over the course of five years, to take on any new employment judges. This was exacerbated by the departure of several tribunal judges without anybody to take their place.
The fallout from the backlog means that the average disposal time for single cases has risen from the 20 week target to 26 weeks, with claimants having to wait months for a hearing date.
Samantha Randall, a Solicitor and employment law expert, said: “The introduction of Employment Tribunal fees in 2013 led to a sharp fall in the number of claims being made, which resulted in a lot of judges being allowed to retire or move to other courts.
“With no judges replacing those who left, the whole system became something of a timebomb, ticking away, just waiting for the moment in 2017 when the Supreme Court would rule the Government’s implementation of fees unlawful. The current backlog issues are a direct result of the Ministry of Justice’s failure to plan ahead, resulting in people being made to wait longer than necessary before they can get access to the justice. With that in mind, the recruitment drive couldn’t come a moment too soon.”