SEEK: Salford Environment for Expertise and Knowledge

Published Conference Proceedings - Paper
September 2014

Employment Tribunals- A historical perspective

Lord, J 2014, 'Employment Tribunals- A historical perspective', British Academy of Management Annual Conference 2014#The Role of the Business School in Supporting Economic and Social Development##British Academy of Management#Belfast#UK.


The Employment Tribunal Service (ETS) is an alternative to internal workplace dispute resolution, which has facilitated a fluctuating increase in claims since the tribunals were established in 1964. Figures from the ETS annual report (2013) show 191,541 cases accepted by the tribunal in 2012 – 2013 and 186,300 cases in 2011- 2012.


Research reports from the British Chamber of Commerce (2010) and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (2011) state that the Employment Tribunal System is “broken” due to the number of vexatious claims and the abuse of the system by claimants. A report by the Confederation of British Industries (2010) revealed that employers face an average bill of £8,500 to defend employment tribunal claims when those that settle can minimise the cost on average to £5,400. These reports have initiated business groups to successfully lobbying the Government to reform the employment tribunal system through recommendations such as claimants being required to pay a fee or deposit when making a claim.


The statements by the two employers’ organisations instigated a historical analysis of the ETS, from its foundations in the 1960’s through to its widening jurisdiction as a result of the Donovan Commission and its constant modification over the last twenty years.


The paper concludes that all stakeholders believe the tribunal system is an important aspect to resolving workplace disputes. In particular claimants and respondents believe that although there are resolvable challenges within the system, it is not a ‘barrier to justice’ but a system that needs to be continually modernised to ensure that the service is accessible for people who have a genuine dispute with an organisation. 


Key Words / Key Phrases: Employment Tribunal, Employment Relationship, Dispute Resolution


SEEK Members

Publication Details

Conference Proceedings
Lord, J ed. 2014, The Role of the Business School in Supporting Economic and Social Development, British Academy of Management, Belfast, UK.

Conference Details
British Academy of Management Annual Conference 2014