Important update to the rules which govern Employment Appeals

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (Amendment) Rules 2023 SI 2023/967 (the “EAT Amendment Rules”) have been published and are set to take effect on 30 September 2023. The EAT Amendment Rules are important and useful changes for those intending to make an appeal by decreasing the documents required and extending the time limit for making an appeal in the event of a minor error. Additionally, a new Employment Appeal Tribunal Practice Direction (“EAT PD 2023”) , which has been designed to be more accessible to the non-lawyer, will also come into in force on 30 September 2023. 

What are the Employment Appeals Tribunal Rules?

The EAT Amendment Rules make amendments to the Employment Appeals Tribunal Rules 1993 SI 1993/2854 (the “EAT Rules”). The EAT Rules first came into force on 16 September 1993, with the purpose of enabling the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) to judge cases justly, which required the EAT to ensure both parties were on equal footing, and that cases were resolved in a proportionate, expeditious, fair and cost-effective manner.

What changes are being made?

There are a number of changes which the EAT Amendment Rules make to the EAT Rules but the most notable are in relation to Rule 3 and Rule 37.

The EAT Amendment Rules amend Rule 3 of the EAT Rules by reducing the number of documents required to be submitted alongside a Notice of Appeal. Applicants will no longer be required to provide copies of any claim or response forms in their appeal to the EAT, resulting in a less burdensome and simpler process.

The EAT Amendment Rules also amend Rule 37 of the EAT Rules for the purposes of enabling the Employment Appeal Tribunal to exercise wider discretion in extending the time limit for the submission of an appeal, in the event there is only a minor error, and it would not be of any prejudice to the other party. This should reduce the need for Rule 3(10) hearings, freeing up judges time to deal with appeals, which should in turn lead to quicker decisions for those involved.

In terms of the EAT PD 2023, among other things, it includes new sections on litigants in person and remote hearings, and new forms for applying for a rule 3(10) hearing or any case management order or direction. The EAT PD 2023 reminds parties that they must comply with the overriding objective and communicate with the EAT and the other parties in a respectful and appropriate manner, and warns parties about the consequences of offensive and abusive conduct, which may include strike-out of an appeal or response. It contains two new forms as its annexures.

Curzon Green’s contribution

Our Jennifer Sole chaired the working party on behalf of the Employment Lawyers’ Association’s Legislative & Policy Committee, which responded to the EAT Rules amendment and new PD consultation in July. We believe this led to the removal of a previously proposed provision, requiring all parties to sign a declaration when lodging an application, appeal or response, which placed unnecessary additional administrative burden on the parties to an appeal. A welcome change!

This article is intended to be a summary of the new rules, only and is true as at the time of writing. The latest rules should always be consulted. For specific advice in respect of appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, do not hesitate to contact our specialist employment