ACAS early conciliation service launches

by Redmans Solicitors on April 9, 2014

As of 6 April 2014, ACAS have launched their new “early conciliation” service for claimants.

Under the early conciliation scheme, from 6 April 2014 potential claimants in the Employment Tribunal may engage with ACAS before issuing their claim in order to attempt to settle their outstanding claim(s). This scheme is non-compulsory from 6 April to 5 May 2014, but it becomes compulsory for potential claimants to go engage with ACAS prior to issuing their claims from 6 May 2014. This article will examine the following:

  1. What is the purpose of early conciliation through ACAS?
  2. Do parties to employment tribunal proceedings have to engage with ACAS?
  3. What are the benefits of using the early conciliation scheme for claimants?
  4. What are the benefits of using the early conciliation scheme for respondents?

What is the purpose of early conciliation through ACAS?

The main purpose of the early conciliation scheme is to attempt to settle claims without resort to litigation in the Employment Tribunal. This has the added benefit that (potentially) the number of claims litigated in the Employment Tribunal will decrease, bringing down the cost of the Employment Tribunal system itself. Further, the Government believes that this will also save employers money as they will not have to devote management and legal resources to defending claims.

How does the ACAS early conciliation service work?

  1. The complainant must submit the prescribed form to ACAS (online version here)
  2. An ACAS early conciliation support officer will then take reasonable steps to contact the complainant. If the ACAS officer is unable to contact the complainant then ACAS will assume that the complainant is not interested in early conciliation and will use a certificate to the complainant
  3. If the complainant consents to such, the ACAS officer will then contact the respondent to see if they will engage with the conciliation. If either party refuses to engage then a certificate will be issue to the complainant and the respondent (if contact has been made with them)
  4. If both parties are willing to discuss settlement then there will be a settlement period of 1 month
  5. If a settlement is then reached then ACAS will draw up a COT3 agreement. If not, ACAS will withdraw from the process

Do parties to employment tribunal proceedings have to engage with ACAS?

The short answer to this question is no. Until 6 May 2014, there is no obligation to engage with the process at all as it is entirely voluntary. From 6 May, however, it is compulsory for potential litigants in the Employment Tribunal to register with ACAS but there is no mechanism to force them to reasonably engage with the conciliation process itself.

What are the benefits of using the early conciliation scheme for claimants?

The main benefit is that it could lead to the settlement of their claim. However, it is impossible for claimants to know whether what they’re being offered by the respondent (their employer) is reasonable or not – this is one of the main disadvantages of the early conciliation scheme.

What are the benefits of using the early conciliation scheme for respondents?

The main benefit for employers of using the early conciliation scheme is that they are able to potentially settle expensive Employment Tribunal claims without resort to using the Employment Tribunal system itself. This saves, ACAS states, £3,800 on average for employers.

Redmans Solicitors are Richmond solicitors and are also employment solicitors in Putney offering settlement agreement advice

Redmans Solicitors

Redmans Solicitors

Commercial law, employment law and litigation firm based in Richmond, London
Redmans Solicitors

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