Reinventing the wheel – a rapid solution to Rapid Resolution

Back in November 2011, Vince Cable announced wide ranging measures intended by the Coalition Government to “radically” overhaul employment law. 

One of the proposals was for a “Rapid Resolution” scheme, aimed at providing a quicker and cheaper alternative to a tribunal hearing.  I’ve been giving some thought to how this could work…

What we need is a speedy, informal, private and generally less legalistic alternative to an employment tribunal hearing”.

Yes, and it should probably be designed to provide a final outcome more quickly and one which mirrors the outcomes available in an employment tribunal”.

Dealing with the cases ought to be adjudicators chosen for their impartiality, knowledge, skills and employment relations experience”.

For the sake of certainty there would have to be few grounds for challenging the arbitrator’s award and appeals can only be made in limited circumstances

Yes, the observant amongst you will have by now have spotted that I am quoting directly from the introduction to the existing Acas Arbitration Scheme from Acas’ website.  Introduced to great fanfare in 2001, it has enjoyed extremely limited take up in the years since. 

In an evaluation of the Scheme carried out in 2003, participants in the survey (which included users and non users of the Arbitration Scheme) saw the limited jurisdiction of the scheme to unfair dismissal* as a barrier to usage together with a lack of awareness amongst potential users.

The research paper closes:

“Finally, the majority expressed a view that, with tribunals increasingly overloaded with unfair dismissal cases, there was a growing need for a scheme such as this. It was therefore stressed that the potential for the Scheme’s development in the future was considerable.”


So, my rather obvious point is this.  Instead of devising a whole new Scheme, why not start with something that already exists (and indeed, cost a great deal of time, effort and public money the first time around) and make it fit for the current purpose?

Presumably Acas will be able to dig out a handful of arbitrators who have determined a case under the existing scheme for their views on how the scheme could be refreshed, revamped or otherwise improved. 

This surely would be a promising starting point in the quest to save public money, parliamentary time and most importantly ease the burden on our employment tribunals as soon as possible.


*The paper did not include consideration of the flexible working Arbitration Scheme although it was in place by the time the research was carried out

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