Employment tribunal award enforcement gets a shake up
The Government has realised in the last year that the Employment Tribunal system is not effective at getting successful employee claimants paid out by their former employers. A report by the CAB entitled “Justice Denied” highlighted the plight of those involved and asked the Government to do something to improve the current system. As we mentioned in our autumn bulletin, the Justice Minister, Jack Straw, confirmed he would be looking to High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) to set up a fast track system for enforcement.

At the time of going to press, we can tell you that discussions between the HCEOs’ professional association and the Ministry of Justice have moved the issue forward, and the Civil Rules Committee has agreed to amend Part 70.4 of the CPR to allow the new streamlined procedure to come into effect on 1 April 2010.

As many of our clients will appreciate, the current system is tedious when it comes to enforcing a Tribunal Award.

The employee has to file the Award at the County Court nearest to the respondent’s address to turn it into an enforceable court judgment by completing forms N322A and B. Once that has been done, the employee has to ask the County Court to issue a Certificate of Judgment, which in effect releases the Award to the High Court for enforcement.

The new process sweeps away all this paper pushing by combining the N322B and N293A into one document so that HCEOs can use the new completed Certificate on which to issue the Writ of Fifa, which then gives them the power to enforce the Award.

As a result, Sherforce will be offering a completely free service to the employee to complete all the paperwork and enforce the resulting Writ. It will charge the employer for the cost of the enforcement process.

Claire Sandbrook, who was first approached by the CAB to review the current system, has said: “We are delighted that the Lord Chancellor has recognised the strength of the High Court system of enforcement in that we do what it says on the tin ? if you don’t pay us, we will remove goods. We have felt for a long time that we should be supporting what we call “vulnerable creditors”, i.e. those who need support to get their judgment enforced. People who take action against their former employers fall into that category and are entitled to have the support of the court system when it comes to ensuring they see their Award turned into monetary compensation through a robust enforcement process. We fully support this measure and congratulate the Justice Minister and his team on getting to grips with this issue and giving employees real access to justice.”

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