Employment Tribunal Decisions Now Available Online
Details of Employment Tribunal decisions will be published online for the first time after the launch of a new website; allowing members of the public to search for cases that have been decided, either by employee or employer name.
Whilst Employment Tribunal decisions have been publically available for some time, it was necessary to attend in person at Bury St Edmunds Employment Tribunal for decisions in England and Wales, and Glasgow for those in Scotland.
Employment Tribunal decisions are not legally binding on other courts, but because the judgments will provide comprehensive details of the facts in dispute it can cause adverse publicity to businesses and therefore act as an incentive for them to settle so that details of the claims against them do not become public knowledge.
The rationale behind making the judgments available to a wider audience is to facilitate ’open justice’ according to the Judge Brian Doyle, President of the Employment Tribunal of England and Wales. However, there are a couple of downsides. Firstly, it makes it easy for employers to search the register to see if someone they are thinking about recruiting has brought a claim against a previous employer. This could lead to a decision not to hire an otherwise perfect candidate for fear of having a Tribunal claim brought against them. Secondly it means that any negative comments about a party are likely to show up in search engine results when looking for the party name online.
It is therefore possible that the introduction of the new website could serve as an incentive for parties to settle their disputes in order to avoid attending the Employment Tribunal and having the decision and any negative findings made public, which once again could increase the costs of Tribunal claims for employers. Those who are unwilling to reach a deal run the risk of the Tribunal finding against them and for adverse decisions to be readily available for years to come. Wherever possible it is therefore crucial to seek legal advice at an early stage in order to avoid Tribunal claims being pursued altogether.