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19:12 on Tuesday
28 October 2003

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ACAS scheme launched


The long awaited and once-postponed ACAS arbitration scheme is officially launched 21 May 2001. The scheme, which will deal with 1,000 cases in its first year, aims to provide an alternative to the Employment Tribunals for straightforward Unfair Dismissal cases.

There are a number of important differences between an Acas hearing and an Employment Tribunal, which mean that it will not be suitable for all cases. Most notably: -

  • An Employment Tribunal is heard before a legally qualified Chairperson, together with a panel of two other members, whereas the ACAS hearing is before a single ACAS arbitrator, who is experienced in employment relations.

  • Although legal representatives may be present at an ACAS hearing, they are given no special status - the arbitrator will ask each party questions, and there is no cross-examination.

  • Once an Arbitration Agreement has been signed, the case cannot then be heard by an Employment Tribunal, meaning that there is effectively no right of appeal.

The ACAS web site at www.acas.org.uk contains further details on the scheme.

The scheme will not be right for everybody, but there can be no doubt that for many straightforward cases it will provide a cost effective route for dispute resolution.

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This article is an employment law e-ssentials bulletin produced by Hegarty & Co

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