Employment Tribunal Decisions Available Online

The Employment Tribunal Decisions from Scotland, Wales, and England are now available online as part of a gov.uk web page in which anyone can perform searches of any judgment of the first instance. It is easy to use with the inclusion of a drop-down menu, and a text lookup.

How Was it Done Before?

Before the launch of this new web page about Employment Tribunal Decisions, the search was slow and cumbersome. There were two offices to perform searches, depending on the jurisdiction:

  • For searches on the Welsh and English tribunals, the office is at Bury St Edmunds.
  • For searches on Scottish tribunals, the office is in Glasgow.

These places are still working, but the number of inquiries has been reduced significantly. However, if you wish to perform a historical search from before 2015, it is still the place to go.

What Exactly is the Information You Can Find Online?

You can perform searches for any case that started in 2015 or later. There are Employment Tribunal Decisions and first-instance judgments. If you find useful information, you can order a printed copy of the file. By paying a fee, you get it delivered by a courier service directly to your home address.

As for the information that will be generated in the future, it will be automatically added to the database. It is not yet decided if the previous information will be added. The government might be waiting for the results of this first stage to determine whether it would be useful or not to have it available online. As time passes by, the need of such information would be less significant, and the odds are that the integration of old information in the online database will never occur.

What is Expected from the Availability of the Information

Previous cases of employment tribunals can not be tied to a subsequent case. Nevertheless, they are valuable information that can inform institutions about potentially negative publicity regarding current and future cases. In this sense, the outcome of a previous judgment can be of use.

It is expected that the availability of information will promote settlements between parties in new disputes. By knowing the judge’s decision in a similar previous case there can be a better risk assessment than without this information.

Potential (inappropriate) Uses of the Information

The availability of the information can have other uses. As it is now easy to perform a search, employers could look at it as a source of information to screen new candidates or current employees. With the available information, the companies can now know if there has been any involvement of a particular person in a tribunal in the past.

If the database is used as a filter, Employment Tribunal Decisions could serve to dismiss anyone who has been involved in a legal issue with his former employee in the past under the (perhaps incorrect) assumption that individuals who started allegations, either justified or unjustified, are prone to do so again. Especially when there was a positive outcome, and they got benefits, it is a higher risk.

In the same line of thoughts, applicants can perform searches on companies to find out if there has been any claim against them in the past. Even customers and competitors could look for such information that was meant to remain confidential on the company side. This could be used in many creative ways in the future, and it is yet to know if there will be any serious consequences.
It is not that the information was kept confidential by the court in the past. It is just that the process of getting it was not as easy as it is today. With an online service, you don’t have to visit an office, fill in a form, and wait until they retrieve the information for you. A process that could take a week now takes seconds.

In the meantime, employers are cautioned: it is illegal to discriminate potential candidates by using the information of Employment Tribunal Decisions.

Warning About Discrimination of Potential Candidates

It could be tempting for employers, recruiters, or HR departments looking for a new employee to screen them through the Employment Tribunal Decisions database. However, if the candidate suspects that she has been discriminated, she could file a claim. It is illegal to close opportunities to those people who have been involved in an employment trial.

That is why the rejection of any candidate should have strong foundations. The selection process must be clear, and the evaluation fully documented. This is the only way to demonstrate fairness in the selection process. Even when the company is not using the online database, a potential candidate could argue so. Companies recruiting must be prepared from now on to deal with claims such as those.

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