Amendments to the employment tribunal rules of procedure

        Raise in ceiling on costs which the tribunal can award where a party to a case has acted vexatiously or unreasonably from £500 to £10,000.

        Power to strike out weak cases. There will be a new provision enabling the tribunal to strike out, at any stage in the proceedings, an application or response (notice of appearance) on the grounds that it has no real prospect of success.

        Increase in level of deposit. The maximum deposit that can be required at a pre-hearing review as condition for continuing with a weak case will be raised from £150 to £500. SI 2001 No.237 paves the way for this to be done by amending section 9(3) of the Employment Tribunals Act 1996. The order can be found on the HMSO website.

        Application of costs penalties to representatives. A tribunal will be able to order costs against a party where its representative has acted vexatiously or unreasonably in conducting the case.

        The tribunal will be required to consider imposing costs where in its opinion a party, or a partyís representative, has acted vexatiously or unreasonably.

        A new statement of the principles guiding the tribunal. This will explain the overriding objective of tribunals to deal with cases justly, including, so far as practicable: ensuring the parties are dealt with equally, saving expense, acting in proportion with the complexity of the case, and dealing with cases fairly and expeditiously. The parties will have a duty to assist the tribunal in furthering the overriding objective.

        Case management. Tribunals will be able to further the overriding objective by giving such directions to the parties as appear to them to be appropriate.

        Penalty for failure to comply with the tribunalís directions. The tribunal may order costs or strike out the whole or part of the originating application or notice of appearance, or direct that a respondent be debarred from defending altogether for failure to comply with any directions issued by the tribunal (subject to opportunity to show cause why this should not be done).

        National security cases. New provisions will allow Crown employees (including members of the security and intelligence agencies) to bring claims to employment tribunals in a similar way as possible to other employees. However, safeguards will prevent the public disclosure of sensitive information.

        Tribunal Chairmen.  People holding the necessary legal qualifications in England and Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland will be eligible to serve as tribunal chairmen (men or women) in England and Wales and in Scotland.

        Multiple applications and responses arising out of the same facts may be presented in a single document.