Compensation for Aborted Hearings from MOJ

I’ve recently been involved with a couple of hearings where no judge was available, so we all trooped off home (at significant expense for my client).

So I did some research on recovering those wasted costs from the famed MOJ Compensation Fund.

Apparently there is no ‘fund’, as such.  Rather, service managers at each tribunal centre have discretion to make payments.  My assistant rang round the tribunals to see what the practice was in different regions.  Most service managers wouldn’t take her call.  Of the few that did, the consistent response was:-

  • they take decisions about compensation on the facts of each case  (what facts?  Everyone wasted costs because no judge was available – how are any of those cases fact-sensitive?)
  • they don’t apply any formal (or informal) criteria – it just depends on the case

Whilst I don’t feel strongly enough about this to launch an e-petition and force a debate in parliament (like that would happen), it’s poor practice that these important decisions – relating to the state keeping up its end of the social (and now fee-paid) contract – should depend on the whim on a local service manager who isn’t even purporting to apply consistent or fair criteria.

8 thoughts on “Compensation for Aborted Hearings from MOJ

    • That’s my impression, too. I had a 6-dayer get pulled from the list the night before just 2 weeks ago, and a colleague in another 6-dayer had the same experience on the following day. Both at London Central. While this kind of adjournment has been happening for as long as I remember, I only ever recall it happening in short cases – up to 2 days’ length.

    • This year I have had two cases removed from the list due to lack of judicial availability the last working day prior to the hearing, both outside the North East one of which was when I was boarding the train to travel.

      The one occasion compensation was sought for the travel and hotel expenses that were wasted a short reply was received that as listing was a judicial decision, no compensation could relate to that decision.

      As Tribunal claims fall and new fee paid judges arrive, I would be particularly concerned if this continued into 2014.

    • It is happening more in my experience. One reason it is happening more is because REJ’s are saving money by not using fee paid judges who will emphatically tell you that they are available even at short notice. So the statement that there is no judge available to hear the case is half true. These last minute postponements are frustrating for everyone including the hapless lay members who get stood down at the last minute and don’t get their fee.

  1. This is one of my real bug bears. I’m sure I don’t do as many tribunals as the lawyers on here but every one since this time last year has been postponed the afternoon before due to “unavailability of a judge” (with one exception – they told us that the afternoon before that the case was being transferred from Carlisle to Manchester – which since both claimant and respondent were based in Whitehaven was a completely unrealistic situation at such short notice). I must admit I’ve never even tried to get compensation.

    I do understand that scheduling cases must be a nightmare for the staff involved – and they would no doubt suggest doing this is better than being a “floating case”. But (now that we don’t have lay members any longer) it does seem to me that either there’s no concept of ” customer service” in the Tribunal system or there is a dire shortage of Employment Judges (possibly both)

  2. If you have been cancelled, it is worth asking the Tribunal to give your case “DNM” or “Do Not Move” status. That should reduce the chances of it happening again. Some regions do this without prompting. Others, with very difficult lists, refuse but it must be worth a try.

  3. Our last three hearings have all been pulled the day before -all within the last two weeks. Not enough Employment Judges is the reason given. I would hazard a guess that Regional Employment Judges have to work to a strict budget and therefore cannot pull in a part time Judge at the last minute when the number of cases listed exceed the number of Judges. Bloody annoying though. Grrrrrr!

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