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Common sense juries allowed in some employment tribunals

Comment 4th February 2016

This is an extra law but could save a lot of others.

  • Juries where requested by both sides, or one side at an appeal case
  • Juries perhaps in cases where the employee gave up their right to damages, but wanted the case to be heard more like a criminal case, for a statement of guilt and deterrant against future wrongs.

Why does this matter?

The Polkey case for example allows lawyers to make so much fuss about whether employers follow the right procedure that employers like councils with long staff handbooks are bound to fall down somewhere. This is a description of the sort of thing juries in some cases would reduce…

On the employee's side there's a problem of harassment and anti-social behaviour. For some reason, certain celebrity chef's behaviour in the workplace is considered legal by employment tribunals while magistrates courts might find it illegal if it was done by a hoody in the high street. But the real risk of damage to career can be much higher from a mad boss than from a hoody; the effects of bulling employers on those around them can be equivalent to the effects of crime elsewhere and deserve the same kind of court.

Prevention of future wrong is the point of a criminal court – even if only by finding someone guilty in public, but I found with a freedom of information request that 3 of the hundred staff were suing my ex-employer that year. A smaller proportion had sued every year or tow

The county courts serve the same purpose for debtors, in preventing some companies from trading because of the records that can be dug-up. Managers on the other hand can bully everybody about them and go-on to get a good reference to bully someone else at the next place because the tribunal system doesn't serve the same purpose, and I think an option of a jury would be one part of making it do the job.

Having been on jury service I have to say that there is a lot of waiting-about and giving-up of day job time and the taxpayer has to pay expenses, but maybe some of the people waiting for other cases could act jury? Or anyone who wanted to make a claim might have to earn it by sitting on the jury for another case? Obviously tribunals were set-up to discuss simple facts about clear disputes, and nobody would ask for juries in those kinds of cases. Also, the scheme could be polited in one area to find out how much it cost and saved before a big deal was made of it.

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