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Archive for October, 2012

Employment Tribunal Statistics – Part I

Last month, the Ministry of Justice has released statistics from the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal, covering the period from 1st April 2011 to 31st March 2012. The interesting part about these statistics is the ability to use them as evidence for cross-examination of the Government’s policies due to be implemented over the next year.

Claims accepted

One of the more striking statistics is the 15% reduction in claims accepted this year. Much of this can be attributed to multiple claims, where many employees make a claim against a single employer.  Many of these are the wage claims against the NHS trusts and the working hour claims against airlines, which can be demonstrated in the large decline in the number of claims made for unauthorised deductions of wages and under the Working Time Directive.

In terms of increase, only claims made for failure to consult and inform during redundancies and transfer of undertakings increased, at a rate of 8% and 36% respectively. This is perhaps more of a reflection of the current economic situation and business practices as opposed to Tribunal trends however.

The fees to be introduced next April will undoubtedly impact upon these numbers, but to what extent remains to be seen.

Disposal

Along with the reduction in the number of claims, there has also been a reduction of 10% in the number of claims disposed of. The breakdown of case outcomes are as follows:

33% settled through ACAS

27% were withdrawn

13% were struck out without a hearing

12% were successful at hearing

7% were unsuccessful at hearing

6% received a default judgement

2% were dismissed at a preliminary hearing

Perhaps worryingly, the figure for cases being struck out is higher than cases that are successful at hearing. This would suggest that the Employment Tribunal’s extreme caseload is starting to affect case outcome. The reasons for why cases were struck out and withdrawn would certainly make interesting reading, especially as a number of business professionals feel the system is awash with unmeritorious claims.

In terms of unfair dismissal, a key jurisdictional claim, 55% were unsuccessful, 45% successful. This statistic ought to be borne in mind by legal advisors.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal

A concerning statistic for legal advisors and the tribunal system as a whole is that nearly half (47%) of the cases disposed of were rejected for having no reasonable prospect of success. Another 13% were rejected for being out of time. There are thus two important issues when appealing to the EAT, first ensure that the appeal is submitted promptly, and second ensure that it refers to a point of law. This must be considered by both professional and lay representatives alike.

 The full release can be downloaded from the Ministry of Justice’s website.


New Chambers Publication

Robert Spicer’s new book – LAW – has now been published  in electronic form on the Amazon Kindle store.

The book aims, in general, to set out a highly critical examination of the English legal system and legal profession. The politicised nature of the critique distinguishes the book from others and should provide an alternative approach which is currently lacking.

Specifically:

  • To continue to emphasise the overwhelming importance of the illegality of the Iraq war.
  • To expose, explain and illustrate the central role of money in the English legal system.
  • To argue, on behalf of non-lawyers, for the simplification, demystification and clarification of English legal rules.
  • To examine the growing involvement of charity in the English legal system.
  • To examine English law and lawyers from the perspective of class justice.
  • To restate and to publicise neglected voices of dissent on law and lawyers.
  • To discuss the human rights industry.
  • To illustrate, with recent examples, the significance of health and safety law in the English legal system.
  • To put forward realistic suggestions for alternative legal practice.
  • To discuss the meaning and significance of dissent in the context of legal practice.
  • To challenge existing preconceptions and accepted wisdom on the role of English law and lawyers.
  • To discuss the effect, in a historical context, of revolutionary changes in society on law and lawyers.

Health and Safety Prosecution

Death of steelworker: £500,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Tata Steels UK Ltd (2012) Swansea Crown Court, August 3.

Tata Steels UK Ltd has been fined following the death of a worker.

Significant points of the case

  • In April 2006 Kevin Downey was working a night shift at the company’s Port Talbot plant.
  • He went to the cast house at the site to inspect the slag pool of a blast furnace which was due to close for maintenance.
  • He fell into the open section of a channel containing slag at 1500 degrees Celsius.
  • The company had a reporting system which showed a significant number of near misses where steam had led to dangerous situations.
  • It was common practice to operate the furnace with channels left uncovered without taking additional precautions to prevent workers from falling in.

Tata was fined £500,000 plus £57,400 costs for breaches of sections 2 and 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees and non-employees.