Since 6 May 2014, it has
been mandatory for anyone intending to bring an employment tribunal claim to
contact Acas prior to submitting their claim. Acas will then seek to promote
settlement during a month long conciliation period. Neither party is obliged to
participate in early conciliation.
So, after six months, is
there any evidence to suggest that this early conciliation service has been
successful in achieving its aims; namely to encourage early settlement of
claims and thus reduce the amount of tribunal litigation?
Acas has recently
published the first six months’ figures showing how early conciliation is
working. This reveals that, over the first six months, it has conciliated in
37,000 cases (some of which were multiple claims).
Only 10% of employees
rejected the offer of early conciliation once they have submitted their early
conciliation form. Similarly, only 10% of employers declined to participate in
early conciliation once Acas contacted them.
Early indications show
that 18% of early conciliations that took place in the first three months of
the scheme, resulted in settlement terms being agreed between the parties by
way of a COT3 agreement. Of those conciliations that did not result in
settlement, over 2/3rds did not then
progress to a tribunal claim.
Whilst Acas can be
rightly encouraged by the fact that few parties have refused to participate in
the process, it is not all good news. In the first three months of the scheme,
early conciliation has removed just 3046 claims from the tribunal system. It
would seem that most employers are unwilling to settle a case without first
seeing the claim put in writing so that they can properly assess the likely
These figures also support
the fact that the introduction of tribunal fees is continuing to have a major
impact; because they reveal that there are a large number of people who contact
Acas because they believe they have a claim but then do not actually proceed to
file a claim.
The future of the tribunal
fee regime is likely to be a “hot topic” in the run up to the general election