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Equality Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:31 am on 9th June 2009.

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Katja Hall: This is an issue where the CBI and the TUC disagree quite strongly. We think that it is a myth that representative actions would somehow streamline the system and facilitate the progress of such claims. Whatever system you have, you cannot avoid looking at each individual claim at some stage. The question really is whether you front-load or back-load it. Whatever system you have, you still have to assess the individual claims.

We think that under the current system there is already the ability to look at claims and group them together. We think that could be used much more widely to speed up the processes involved. We also need to be realistic about the other potential risks of representative action. Sarah helpfully says that the TUC is not pushing for class action, which is welcome,  but I am not sure that the line between the two is always that clear. We already know that employers—especially small firms—do not have much faith in the employment tribunal system. There is a real risk that representative action would lead to a more litigious society and greater pressure on employers to settle cases even when they are pretty sure that they would win.