Time-wasters should be fined

Most people who apply to tribunals have lost their job. The last thing we should do is to price the tribunals out of the reach of genuinely aggrieved former employees.

The Government employs an army of Acas officers. Among their functions is to prevent frivolous cases reaching tribunal. If we recognise there are too many time-wasting cases, we should review the effectiveness of the conciliation service.

If employers are worried about the cost and believe some of them are time-wasters, they should use HR to defend the cases, rather then legal services.

I’ve been a lay member of the tribunals for around 10 years and I can count the number of time-wasting cases on the fingers of one hand. Conversely, I have known several cases where the employer had accepted at the start of the case that the dismissal was unfair and used the tribunal to determine the amount of compensation. There doesn’t appear to be any element of punitive compensation or costs in those instances.

Mark Smith

HR manager

ntl

• Not only have we had flippant cases brought against us by individuals, but many are now supported by insurance such as legal expenses. Under the current limitations, there is no incentive for them to seriously consider a client’s case before floating off a claim. The insurance companies are good at setting the level of claim that is commercially attractive for the employer to settle.

Name and address supplied

• I agree that the DTI should enable the employment tribunals to fine time wasters. I believe everybody will chance their arm now the limit is £50,000 but surely a fine will make people think twice.

Kath Thomasson

Personnel manager

CV Home Furnishings

• I agree with the suggestion of increasing the level of costs awarded for frivolous tribunal applications.

However, a tribunal chairperson will hardly ever award a company costs against an ex-employee. I have never known a chairperson ask for a deposit, even in the most hopeless case. There has been many a threat at a review hearing, but it never goes further.

While I support the call for some sort of penalty, how would this be collected? Better use of the deposit system would be my ideal, at least then they would have to put the money up front before they could proceed.

David Pocknell

Employee relations manager

• I would strongly support any initiative to deter frivolous and hopeless tribunal claims. I have three cases in the pipeline, two are very weak and the other is a joke. None of them is worth the effort and expense we will incur in contesting them, but we baulk at the idea of settling by paying undeserved awards.

The situation on employers’ liability is even worse. Driven by unscrupulous lawyers and “no win, no fee”, this has become a lottery in which insurers pay out settlements for nothing, rather than risk the expense of a legal battle.

There should be some kind of forfeit arrangement by which solicitors are penalised for bringing ridiculous claims if they fail to prove their case.

Charles Priestley

Personnel manager

Pioneer Technology (UK)

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