Employment Law Hearing Structures

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

We have published our Consultation Paper on Employment Law Hearing Structures. The consultation closes on 11 January 2019.

Download our consultation paper on Employment Law Hearing Structures.

Download the summary of the consultation paper.

Download the Welsh summary of the consultation paper.

The problem

The Civil Courts Structure Review led by Briggs LJ noted that there is an:

“awkward area” of shared and exclusive jurisdiction in the fields of discrimination and employment law, which has generated boundary issues between the courts and the Employment Tribunal System (the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeals Tribunal). As sui generis entities, both employment tribunals sit “uncomfortably stranded between the Civil Courts and the main Tribunal Service”.

These issues are well known amongst employment law experts, judges and practitioners.

They can cause delay and can also prevent cases being determined by the judges best equipped to handle them.

The project

This project came out of our 13th Programme of Law Reform and started in December 2017.

It will seek to resolve problems caused by this allocation of jurisdiction, as well as investigating the outdated and in some respects arbitrary limits on the Employment Tribunal’s jurisdiction in the employment field.

The Ministry of Justice and the Department of Business, Energy, Innovation and Skills (BEIS) are in the process of reforming the Employment Tribunal system as part of the modernisation of the courts and tribunals system.

They have indicated that there are no plans to consider radical structural change.

This project will therefore work within the boundaries set out by the Government’s position, considering ways of addressing the problems by means short of major restructuring.

Next steps

Our consultation is now open and closes on 11 January 2019.

Comments may be sent using the online form. Where possible, it would be helpful if this form was used.

Alternatively, comments may be sent:

By email to employment-law@lawcommission.gov.uk

By post to Henni Ouahes, Law Commission, 1st Floor, Tower, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate,
London, SW1H 9AG.

If you send your comments by post, it would be helpful if, whenever possible, you could also send them electronically (for example, on CD or by email to the above address, in any commonly used format).

We will publish our final report, and assist with the implementation of our recommendations, in 2019.

Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Public law


Nicholas Paines QC