The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) is currently considering applications as it hopes to avert what has been described as a recruitment ‘crisis’.
In 2013, fees for bringing a case in the tribunal were introduced, which led to a significant fall in claims. As a result, some employment judges left the bench, either due to retirement or to sit in other courts. Those leaving the bench were not replaced.
However, in 2017, fees for bringing claims were abolished following a Supreme Court ruling. Since then, there has been a rapid rise in claims. The last quarter of 2017 saw a 90% increase in cases when compared to the same period of 2016. As a result, disposal times have reached 26 weeks. The current target for single cases is 20 weeks.
The president of the employment tribunal, Brian Doyle, has confirmed that no employment judges have been recruited for five years. This has led to what he has previously suggested is an ‘impending crisis’.
To address this, on 18 June 2018, the JAC opened applications to fill 54 judicial positions across England and Wales. Employment tribunals consist of a judge and often two non-legal members, representing the employer and employee. Disputes cover a range of issues, from claims of unfair dismissal to discrimination and breach of contract.
Applicants for the employment bench will need to fulfil certain criteria before they can be considered. Those from England or Wales must have five years’ post-qualification experience (PQE) as a solicitor or barrister or be a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.
Members of the Bar of Northern Ireland, solicitors or advocates in Scotland, and solicitors of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland are also eligible, if they can demonstrate equivalent PQE. In addition, all candidates must have considerable expertise in employment law. In return, the salary they can expect to receive is in the region of £108,000, rising to £110,000 for those based in London.
The selection process will last until the end of January 2019, with the new judicial appointees taking up their posts in due course.
The JAC is an independent body. Its remit is to recruit candidates for judicial roles in courts and tribunals. Some positions are open to non-legally qualified candidates, but most require legal qualifications and experience.
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