Early intervention dispute resolution scheme trial cuts tribunal costs

Pilots of an early dispute resolution scheme across a number of employment tribunals have been a success, initial results suggest.

The Tribunals Service introduced the scheme to test the effectiveness of judicial mediation in settling a range of discrimination claims in three regional employment tribunals in England and Wales.

Judicial mediation involves bringing disputing parties together in the presence of a specially trained employment tribunal chairman who remains neutral and helps the parties reach their own settlement.

In most cases this led to agreement being drafted by conciliation service Acas without need for a hearing. If unsuccessful, cases were heard in the usual way.

The scheme is now being evaluated by a team from the Centre for Employment Research at the University of Westminster, which will report later in the year.

Peter Handcock, chief executive of the Tribunals Service, said the early indications were that, where judicial mediation was attempted, the probability of success was about 60%.

“This saved both parties and taxpayers the cost of numerous hearing days,” he said. The development of alternative dispute resolution procedures was a key recommendation of this year’s Gibbons Review.

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