We have found that the new Fast Track process for High Court enforcement of employment tribunal and Acas awards has bedded in now.

The enforcement of cases through this process is very likely to grow significantly over the coming months, particularly given the rising number of accepted claims.

A growing problem

In 2009-10, the number of employment tribunals accepted rose by 56% over the previous year to 236,100. The size of the award naturally varies from case to case, but the 2009-10 statistics show that the average award in unfair dismissal cases was £9,120.

The economic climate will almost certainly be a contributory factor to the 56% jump in the number of cases; but research by Ambition shows that poor understanding of the employment tribunal process is another. Their survey of over 200 HR professionals revealed that 15% had no understanding of the process, and only 5% fully understand it.

Prompt action

If a claim is for unfair dismissal, breach of contract or working conditions (three common reasons), the underlying reason for the employer’s actions may be financial uncertainty. The claimant should take enforcement action as soon as they conclude that the defendant is not going to pay the award.

If they leave it, they may well find that, by the time they do instruct an HCEO, the company in either insolvent or on the brink as has few, if any, assets, plus many other creditors baying at their heels. Or, even more annoyingly, they are setting up a phoenix company and will have transferred all assets to the new business.

Getting the detail right

We are finding that several employment tribunal awards we have attempted to enforce have failed because the claimant sued the wrong entity. It should be the full company name on the contract of employment. Even simple checks with Companies House can prevent this issue.

This is frustrating for all (apart from the defendant!) and is so easily avoidable. We have a checklist of all the details the claimant must check before commencing action, so as not to jeopardise their chances of getting paid. 

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