How are cases listed and administered?

How are cases listed for a hearing?

Because of the high rates of settlement and withdrawals, the Employment Tribunals always list many more cases than they have available Employment Judges or venues. This ensures effective use of those venues and judges and, by extension, effective use of the public purse. It also means that cases are generally heard earlier than they would have been otherwise.

To see what cases are coming up in the Employment Tribunal lists, see the section Public Hearing Lists.

Normally this robust approach to listing does not result in any difficulty. Sometimes, however, a smaller number of cases than expected will settle or be withdrawn. If that happens, there are several possibilities:

  • Virtual region. The case may be heard by an Employment Judge drawn from the virtual region, which is described elsewhere on these pages. This may mean changing an in-person hearing to a video hearing, perhaps at short notice.
  • Floating. A case may have to “float”. This word means that the parties will be asked to wait in the venue until a room and a judge becomes available. This is more likely to happen where the case is one that has been listed for an hour or for part of a day.
  • Venue change. A case may be moved at short notice to another venue. This is more likely to happen where the case is one that has been listed for a day or more.
  • Time reduction. A case may have its allocated time reduced. For example, if there are only four days available but a case has been listed for five, the case may be managed in such a way that it completes within four. This is more likely to happen where the case has been listed for several days.
  • Postponement. On occasion, despite these efforts, it may not be possible to locate a venue or judge to hear the case, or it may not be appropriate to move the case to a different venue, to cut the allocated time or to use more than one venue. The case may then be postponed and taken out of the list. Efforts are made to keep such scenarios to a minimum. Where cases have been postponed for this reason, the Employment Tribunals will seek to prioritise them when they are re-listed.

The Employment Tribunals will do their best to consult parties on such options, but this may not always be possible.

Please let us know promptly if your case is withdrawn or settled. This will avoid unnecessary work on your case and it may enable us to reallocate your hearing time to another case.

How are the Employment Tribunals administered?

The Employment Tribunals in England and Wales are divided into ten administrative regions: London Central; London East; London South; South East England; South West England; Midlands West; Midlands East; North East England; North West England; and Wales. The regional office that deals with a case is usually the one nearest to where the claimant worked.

Each of the ten regions is led by a Regional Employment Judge, who is responsible for the day-to-day provision of guidance and leadership to Employment Judges and non-legal members in that region.

There is also a virtual region. This hears cases exclusively by video. It is used as a resource by the ten physical regions of the Employment Tribunals to help cover cases where they are struggling to locate a venue or an Employment Judge.

The senior leadership judge for the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales is the President. The President is responsible for national judicial policy and engages regularly with senior civil servants to seek to ensure appropriate resources for the Employment Tribunals, to support the effective administration of workplace justice. The President works closely with the Senior President of Tribunals and the President of Employment Tribunals in Scotland. You can read more about them here.

Some aspects of judicial policy are discussed in the published minutes of the national and regional user groups, which you can read in the User Groups section.

Neither the President nor the Regional Employment Judges have leadership responsibility for the civil servants who support the Employment Tribunals. They work for His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (usually just called “HMCTS”), which is part of the Ministry of Justice. HMCTS provides the courts and tribunals with administrative support and are responsible for staffing, the estate, I.T. equipment, and the administration of case files. They have their own managers, and the most senior civil servants in the Ministry of Justice are answerable to government ministers.

HMCTS is undergoing a programme of reform designed to improve ways of working and introduce digital case files.