Annual General Meeting — 20th May

ELBA’s AGM will take place on 20th May, at 6pm, in the Bingham Room of Gray’s Inn.

There is a contested election and ballot papers are due by 6pm on Tuesday 19th May. ELBA members should have received ballots and instructions by email. If you have not, please contact Simon Cheetham, the Returning Office at cheetham@oldsquare.co.uk.

Immediately after the AGM there will be a talk from HHJ Peter Clark, one of our founding members and also one of our new Honorary Vice-Presidents (with Mrs Justice Slade DBE).

Open letter on Employment Tribunal Fees

The Employment Law Bar Association has written an open letter to Chris Grayling MP, Jo Swinson MP, Shailish Vara MP, Chuka Umunna MP expressing our concerns about the impact of fees on access to justice in the employment tribunals and calling for an urgent review.

A shorter, edited version of the letter follows. You can also download the full letter, including the signatories.

We are members of the Employment Law Bar Association, a group of barristers practising employment law and acting for all parties.

We write to raise our significant concerns about the fee system operating in Employment Tribunals.

Since July 2013 individuals pursuing a claim in the Employment Tribunal have had, for the first time, to pay a fee. The fees can be remitted, provided the individual can satisfy both a disposable capital test and an income test.

The introduction of fees has resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of claims. The government’s own statistics (released last Thursday) show that the average number of claims per quarter in 2012/2013 (before the introduction of fees) was 48,000; in the last quarter of 2014, there were 18,943, that is 60% fewer claims. 

In our view the present Employment Tribunal fees are a significant barrier to access to justice, and are preventing employees from being able to complain about contraventions of their employment rights.

We do not think that the current level of fees can be justified by the suggestion that prior to July 2013 a significant percentage of Employment Tribunal claims were vexatious claims.

We are not aware of any objective evidence that supports the view that a significant proportion of the claims brought in the Employment Tribunal prior to July 2013 were vexatious. Indeed, the statistics kept by the Ministry of Justice show that of the claims that proceeded to a hearing in 2012/3, more claims were successful than unsuccessful.

Moreover, there is no evidence that the introduction of fees has had the effect of weeding out vexatious claims, whilst allowing claims of merit to continue. For example, in 2012-2013, before the introduction of fees, 36% of claimants whose claims for unfair dismissal were decided at a hearing succeeded; in the first half of 2014-15, well after the introduction of fees, it was 40%. The introduction of fees has had no discernible impact on the outcome of cases. This must mean that meritorious claims are not being pursued because of the fees regime.

The present government stated as long ago as 2 April 2014 that it intends to review the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees, and in particular intends to review the level at which those fees have been set. However, no date has as yet been set for that review to take place.

We call upon the government to undertake that review urgently. We call upon the other parties to commit to such a review in the event of their participation in government after the general election.

Signed

ELBA Annual Dinner — 5th February

The 2015 ELBA Annual Dinner will return to Haberdashers’ Hall, West Smithfield (opposite Bart’s Hospital), to celebrate all that is great at the Employment Bar. We hope you will be able to join us once again. Please join us for drinks at 7pm for dinner at 7.45pm.

We are delighted to welcome Deborah Hargreaves, director of the High Pay Centre, former business editor of the Guardian and former news and financial editor of the Financial Times as our guest speaker.

Once again we have kept the cost down to an affordable level at £95 per head. There will be a maximum of 5 spaces at £65 for ELBA members who are under 3 years call to be allocated on a strictly first come, first served basis.

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday 5 February 2015.

To book, download and return the form below.

Booking form

Annual Dinner – Thursday 13th February 2014

After the huge success and record turnout last year, the 2014 ELBA Annual Dinner will return to Haberdashers’ Hall, West Smithfield (opposite Bart’s Hospital), to celebrate all that is great at the Employment Bar. We hope you will be able to join us once again. We are delighted that our new Honorary President, Lord Justice Elias, has agreed to be our guest speaker.

There will also be the usual glittering array of other Judges and distinguished guests. This year’s meal will, as always, have a choice of meat, fish or vegetarian, but no pork or shellfish. Please indicate your choice on the form when booking. Should anyone have any allergies or special dietary requirements, please let us know.

Once again we have kept the cost down to an affordable level at £95 per head. There will be a maximum of 5 spaces at £65 for ELBA members who are under 3 years call to be allocated on a strictly first come, first served basis.

We will try and accommodate your seating preferences so please indicate them on the form. However, we do discourage whole tables from one set of Chambers as the idea is to mingle.

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday 13th February 2014.

Invitation / Booking form

UPDATE: Time is now short! If you’ve yet to book email Jane Mccafferty with your meal preferences. Unfortunately, you do still need to post a cheque as well.

Old Square Chambers triathlons for FRU

ELBA’s Secretary, Deshpal Panesar has enlisted his colleagues at Old Square Chambers to field no fewer than six teams in the 2013 Virgin Active London Triathlon to raise money for the Free Representation Unit.

You can find more information on the FRU website.

Or, if you just want to chip in to help one, or all, of the teams, their justgiving pages are: Team 1, Team 2, Team 3, Team 4, Team 5 and Team 6.

2013 Election Results

ELBA’s 2013 election results were announced at our AGM on 15th May 2013.

Our newly elected members of the committee are: Ben Cooper, Rachel Crasnow, Martin Griffiths QC, Jane McCafferty, Deshpal Panesar, Diya Sen Gupta, Mohinderpal Sethi.

They join the committee members now in the second year of their two year term: Richard Leiper, Jude Shepherd and Gavin Mansfield QC.

The committee appointed the following officers:

Chair: Richard Leiper
Vice-Chair: Gavin Mansfield QC
Secretary: Deshpal Panesar
Treasurer: Diya Sen Gupta

Colin Bourne (Northern Liaison) and Michael Reed (Free Representation Unit) were co-opted to the committee.

ELBA Committee Nominations

Nominations are invited for membership of the committee of the Employment Law Bar Association to be received by 5pm on Tuesday 16 April 2013.

There are 6 vacant positions. If there are more than 6 nominations an election will follow.

Nominations must be in writing and be signed by the candidate indicating their willingness to serve on the committee and be signed by a proposer and a seconder.

The candidate, proposer and seconder must be members of the association.
Nominations must be sent to the Returning Officer:

Gavin Mansfield QC
Littleton Chambers
3 Kings Bench Walk North
Temple
London EC4Y 7HR
DX: 1047 Chancery Lane

Alternatively a scanned nomination may be sent by email to ghm@littletonchambers.co.uk.