HL Deb 29 January 2002 vol 631 cc25-6WA
Lord Lester of Herne Hill

asked Her Majesty's Government.

Whether they consider, in the light of Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights, that the imposition of requirements in relation to forms for use in proceedings in the employment tribunals should be the responsibility of the judiciary and not of the executive; and, if not, why not. [HL2435]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville

No. The imposition in legislation of reasonable procedural requirements on those embarking on litigation does not constitute a barrier to access to justice, nor does it interfere with the independence and impartiality of the tribunal.

Under existing powers (Section 7(2) of the Employment Tribunals Act 1996), the employment tribunal procedure regulations may already prescribe forms for entering originating applications and notices of appearance, and in fact some of the content of the current forms is laid down there. Clause 25 of the Employment Bill, when implemented, will enable the Secretary of State to impose the requirements outside of the regulations. This will provide greater flexibility to make changes to the requirements where necessary. In particular it will be quicker: the procedure regulations have to lie for 21 days before taking effect.

The content of any new forms will be discussed with the judiciary and interested parties.

As now, the judiciary will decide whether applications and notices of appearance are validly made, and will thus be able to ensure that those who have difficulty completing forms will not be denied access to tribunals.