Tribunal service ‘overwhelmed’ with a 40,000 backlog

A backlog of some 40,000 cases may be waiting to be dealt with in employment tribunals.

This is due in great part to a lack of funding for courts and the tribunal service in recent years, a legal employment expert has suggested.

Alan Lewis of Constantine Law is basing his view on the high number of employment tribunal judgements – 78 – published online in the 24 hours to 3.38pm on Friday, 14 August. According to a statement released by the law firm, Lewis believes that many claims are being processed at present but in spite of that, “we still see long delays in listing cases for hearing”.

The Employment Tribunals National User Group, who met at the end of June this year, said:

  • Coronavirus has led to a significant increase in the tribunal backlog, which was increasing by about 1% each week. “There can be no doubt that this is likely to increase even further after the demise of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme when there are more redundancies,” the group said.
  • There was already a significant backlog before Covid-19 became an issue. There were about 30,000 single cases as of March this year, rising to 36,600 in June.
  • Waiting times for listings of hearings are panning out as follows: as of June 2020, the South-East region is listing two to three-day cases for 2022, the London South region was listing two to three-day cases for mid- to late 2021, and every other region in England & Wales was listing two to three-day cases in the first half of 2021.

Lewis contends that the backlog has actually been caused by “a huge lack of funding” in the courts and tribunals service over recent years. “The fall-out from the Covid-19 pandemic has brought these issues to a head,” he says. “The system is in danger of being completely overwhelmed, particularly when the CJRS comes to an end. More recourses are urgently needed, including more judges.”

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