Details of organisations involved in tribunals to be made public

The names and addresses of organisations involved in employment tribunal cases must be made public, the privacy watchdog has ruled.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has ordered the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) to release the material, having decided there is a strong public interest in its disclosure.

From 1965-2001, a register with organisations’ names and addresses was routinely published. However, following a government consultation, a decision was made to stop doing so. The new ruling paves the way for the material to be released routinely once again.

BERR argued that the information should not be published because it could harm companies who are incorrectly accused by disgruntled employees. It also said that publicising disputes would reduce the chances of an amicable settlement.

BERR also claimed that publishing employers’ details would open them up to contact by firms intent on selling their services and representing them at tribunals.

But the deputy information commissioner, Graham Smith, concluded there was “a very weak – if any – public interest in maintaining the exemption”. Tribunals are open to the public and details of cases are normally in the public domain unless there is a good reason for confidentiality, he added.

In 2007-08, 189,348 cases were heard at employment tribunals, 45,000 more than the previous year.

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