As you may be aware, since February 2017, all Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal judgments have been published on an online register on the gov.uk website. A recent case in the Court of Appeal has confirmed that, other than in cases of national security, the online register will always maintain a copy of any judgment.
In this case, the Claimant made an appeal to the Court of Appeal to argue that his judgment should not be published on the online register, and if the judgment was to be published at all, it should be heavily censored to delete reference to his disabilities, and matters connected to his disabilities, as well as anonymising the parties. The Court of Appeal refused to allow his appeal. It confirmed that neither the Employment Tribunal nor the Employment Appeal Tribunal had any power to prevent the publication of a judgment on the register. Similarly, it was correct to refuse to redact the judgments that had been previously been given at the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal stage to delete details of the Claimant’s disabilities and consequential matters.
This case is a clear indication from the courts of the importance of the principle of open justice. Whilst, traditionally, employers often take the view that it is a disadvantage to the employer for it to be identified as being on the receiving end of a tribunal case, and for details of the case to appear in the judgment given online, the same often holds true for claimants. Parties who are in negotiations about resolving employment disputes, before the commencement of formal tribunal proceedings, may both wish to bear this in mind. From the point at which proceedings are launched, the case will appear in the public register at a later date. Although it is possible, in limited circumstances, to ensure that parties are anonymised, this is very much the exception to the rule of the principle of open justice