Occasionally postponements are used to unsettle the other party. The main drawback of postponements is the lost time, the need to rearrange appointments and the waste of tribunal time and accommodation if a new case can not be slotted into the gap.
Three Strikes and Out
The number of times an employer or claimant can postpone a hearing is being subject to stricter control from 6th April 2016. In future, an application for a third postponement may only be approved in limited circumstances:
- All the parties consent to the postponement and “it is practicable and appropriate for the purposes of giving the parties the opportunity to resolve their disputes by agreement”;
- Exceptional circumstances have arisen – which could include “ill health relating to an existing long term health condition or disability.”;
- The postponement is necessitated by an act or omission of another party or the Tribunal.
An adjournment which causes the hearing to be held or continued on a later date will be treated as a postponement.
A Costs Order Has to be Considered
A further disincentive will be the requirement upon the Tribunal to consider whether a costs order should be approved if an application for a postponement of a hearing was made less than 7 days before the date on which the hearing was due to begin.
Similar restrictions also apply to the first and second requests for a postponement which is made less than 7 days before the date on which the hearing begins. However, the Tribunal has a general discretion to grant a postponement
Let us hope that this does curb the serial postponements of hearings.