Barriers to Justice within the Employment Tribunal System: The Applicants’ Perspective

The Barriers to Justice project seeks to explore the perceptions and experiences of applicants and potential applicants to employment tribunals. The focus will be on the process from a user’s perspective with the overall aim being to identify barriers to justice. The premise of this research is that the highly formalised procedures and processes adopted by the employment tribunal (ET) service are no longer appropriate for the type of employee who would wish to use the ET to resolve a dispute. This formalisation is leading to a perception on the part of many applicants that the ET system is unable to deliver on promises of access to justice with many potential applicants unable to reach the hearing stage because of the formalised nature of the process, or fear of losing due to a lack of representation and then being required to pay the employer’s costs if they lose. Even those who reach the hearing stage can be severely disadvantaged because the formalised system means that the employer is likely to be represented by highly skilled legal counsel practiced in both the appropriate law and tribunal procedure.

The research is being carried out by Dr Morag McDermont with Dr Nicole Busby and in collaboration with the Bristol Citizens Advice Bureau.

The pilot stage research is complete. See the report on the pilot stage interviews.

Further research is included in New Sites of Legal Consciousness: a Case Study of UK Advice Agencies