Scotland proposes employment tribunal devolution

Employment tribunals could be devolved in Scotland in favour of Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS)

The Scottish Government has been criticised after announcing the possibility of devolving the Employment Tribunal system in Scotland and transferring its functions to the First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland.

A Draft Order in Council was produced on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in reaction to a suggestion by the Smith Commission, which said that Employment Tribunal law should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

At present, the UK Government’s employment tribunals are responsible for the administration of Scottish employment cases, however, if the devolution was to go ahead, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) would then take over the function of the UK Government’s employment tribunals.

The Faculty of Advocates said that the move could threaten the integrity of employment cases, as specialist employment law judges will be replaced by the general judges of the First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland.

The Faculty said that this could negatively “impact on the quality of justice provided” and could potentially create a “two-tier” employment law system in the UK, which would be to the detriment of Scotland and its residents, who would experience a “downgrading of employment and equality law”.

The plans put forward in the Draft Order in Council state that only employment law cases with “a sufficient link to Scotland” could be heard by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS).

The Faculty thinks that limiting the cases which can be heard in Scotland could result in some claimants being unfairly denied access to an employment tribunal and therefore denied justice.

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