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
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
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.