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. We are now analysing responses to the consultation.

Download our consultation paper on Employment Law Hearing Structures.

Download the summary of the consultation paper.

Download the Welsh summary of the consultation paper.

Read all of the consultation responses here.

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It will seek to resolve problems caused by this allocation of jurisdiction, as well as investigating the outdated and in some respects arbitrary limits on the Employment Tribunal’s jurisdiction in the employment field.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 closed on 31 January 2019. We will publish our final report, and assist with the implementation of our recommendations, in 2019.


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


Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Public law


Nicholas Paines QC