20th February 2014
It’s official…. early conciliation will come into force on 6th April 2014. Under the new rules, claimants will need to contact ACAS before issuing a tribunal claim, albeit there will be no obligation to actually engage in conciliation.
Date: The early conciliation provisions will apply to claims presented on or after 6 May 2014 (with transitional provisions applying to those presented on or after 6 April).
Time Limits: the time to bring a claim will only start to run again when the certificate is issued by ACAS. This means the time limit for most claims will be three months plus the time during which ACAS conciliates.
Summary: Although prospective claimants will have to contact ACAS before they bring tribunal proceedings, the decision whether to accept the offer of conciliation will be voluntary. So after making initial contact with ACAS, a prospective claimant who does not want to settle may decline conciliation and proceed to lodge their claim. Similarly prospective respondents can also decline to take part.
In addition to the new tribunal fees which were introduced last year, this new procedure is also aimed at reducing the number of tribunal proceedings albeit by attempting to have disputes resolved without the need for tribunal proceedings.
Only time will tell whether parties’ genuinely use the opportunity to resolve a dispute before action or whether they simply consider it another burdensome hurdle which they need to leap over before they can either lodge or defend an actual claim.
The contents of this update are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this update. © Mundays LLP 2014.
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