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Divide and conquer

The complex relationship between the employment
tribunal and the civil courts means advising on
employment-related claims is increasingly difficult, says Robert Spicer

21 March 2003

The recent Court of Appeal decision in McCabe v Cornwall CC [2002] EWCA Civ 1887; [2003] IRLR 87 has further highlighted the complex relationship between the civil courts and the employment tribunal. In a range of employment problems legal advisers now have difficulty in advising clients whether they should proceed in the employment tribunal or in the civil courts. The industrial tribunal (IT) was originally intended to provide a quick, cheap and informal means of redressing grievances in the area of employment law, mainly with respect to unfair dismissal and deductions from wages. The name of the tribunal was changed to employment tribunal (ET) in 1998. By the end of 2002, the functions of the ET had become complex in the extreme. Its jurisdiction has expanded to include matters ranging from equal pay claims to race, sex and disability discrimination. Maximum compensation for unfair dismissal was increased to £52,600 from 1 February 2002. This limit may be wholly inadequate for c...

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