The lengthy process of resolution of discrimination disputes will be revamped following the release of the Discrimination Law Review (DLR) consultation paper on 12 June.
The consultation paper states that there is likely to be a complete repeal of the statutory dispute resolution procedures that were set in 2004, and that these will be replaced by “clear, simple and non-prescriptive guidance”.
Employment barrister Rachel Crasnow of London set Cloisters said: “The legislation presently in place hasn’t reduced the number of cases that go to litigation.”
Increased emphasis is to be placed on alternative dispute resolution, with the paper prescribing conciliation and the use of ombudsmen in particular.
The Government further stated its intention to enhance the role played by ombudsmen, who currently act indep-endently when examining complaints about public and private organisations. No change is made to people seeking to use the ombudsman service.
The current system has been under review for some time, with Department of Trade and Industry official Michael Gibbons leading a review of all aspects of employment dispute resolution in March 2007.
“Following the Gibbons review it’s extremely likely a new system will replace the present framework,” said Crasnow.
The DLR paper also provided the Commission for Equality and Human Rights with the power to provide a voluntary conciliation service for non-employment discrimination cases on all the protected grounds. This power, however, is currently only available to the Disability Rights Commission.