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The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has launched a review of the UK’s employment tribunal framework amid employer concerns that the number of claims is getting out of hand.A spokesperson for the DTI, which is responsible for the Employment Tribunal Service, admitted that the Government is reviewing secondary legislation covering tribunals with a view to speeding up the system.The spokesperson said the DTI will be taking “informal” soundings, but denied that the number of claims is rising out of control.However, Legal Week understands that the Government is considering increasing powers to make penal cost awards against claimants who pursue cases with no chance of success.The move comes as employer bodies are calling for changes to block speculative claims.The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) this week called for the promotion of alternative dispute resolution and the introduction of pre-cost hearings as part of its submission.The CBI blames the use of conditional fee arrangements in tribunals and the raising of compensation limit for unfair dismissal from £12,000 to £50,000 last year for a recent sharp upturn in cases.Industry experts dismiss government claims that tribunals have risen by only 13% in the last year, but solicitors are generally supportive of the current regime.McDermott Will & Emery employment head Fraser Younson told Legal Week: “The system has become much more legalistic than originally intended, but that has been the result of the complexity of employment law. “My feeling is that the system is generally working well.”

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