The four-step, mandatory ACAS Early Conciliation scheme was introduced in April 2014. The purpose of the scheme is to promote the resolution of disputes and to save the stress and cost of Employment Tribunal proceedings. On 7 July 2015, ACAS published its report on the first year of conciliation and its findings indicate that Early Conciliation has clearly met its objectives. The report shows “high levels of satisfaction from both employers and individuals who have used the service”.
Some of the key findings of the report are as follows:
- It dealt with over 83,000 Early Conciliation cases between April 2014 and March 2015; and
- three out of four employees and employers agreed to try Early Conciliation in its first year of operation.
Of the Early Conciliation notifications received between April 2014 and December 2014:
- 63% did not proceed to a tribunal claim;
- a further 15% resulted in a formal COT3 settlement; and
- 22% progressed to a tribunal claim;
- of the 22% in which a claim was issued, more than half (51%) subsequently settled by way of Acas COT3.
The success of the impact of Early Conciliation may be exaggerated by the statistics. A significant reason for claims not being pursued may be attributed to the Tribunal fee regime. The fees which are £160 or £250 to lodge a claim, with a further charge of either £230 or £950 if the matter goes to hearing, are currently subject to fresh judicial review proceedings brought by Unison. We are awaiting the outcome of the fresh judicial review proceedings. We will keep you updated.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.