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Employment Law

Legal guidance - compliance - software

10 JUL 2015

Early conciliation - what impact has it made one year on?

Early conciliation - what impact has it made one year on?
Joanne Oliver
Associate, Veale Wasbrough Vizards

As of May last year, anyone intending to make an Employment Tribunal claim is obliged to notify the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) first to attempt to resolve the dispute through its free Early Conciliation (EC) service.

ACAS has now published a report on the first year of EC. The statistics show that it dealt with over 83,000 EC cases between April 2014 and March 2015 and three out of four employees and employers agreed to try EC within the first year of operation.

Of particular note are the statistics for EC notifications received between April 2014 and December 2014. These show that:

  • 63% did not proceed to a tribunal claim
  • a further 15% resulted in a formal COT3 settlement
  • 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.
A second stage of research to look at what happens to those claimants who go on to lodge a claim with the Tribunal, and the impact of ACAS Conciliation on their next step, is planned for later this year.

Best practice

This latest report by ACAS indicates that EC can be a useful and cost-effective resource in terms of resolving a dispute. It can also provide an opportunity to test the other party's case and the value that they assign to their claim. This can be helpful in informing strategy. Of course, EC will not be a viable option in every case. If relations between the parties have broken down completely to the extent that the employer will not contemplate making any payment to the employee or where the employee has unrealistic expectations of their prospects of success or the value of their claim, then EC is unlikely to resolve the dispute. Employers are advised to familiarise themselves with the EC process, the time limits involved and to seek legal advice if contacted by an ACAS Conciliation Officer about a potential claim.
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