BIS today unveiled draft regulations bringing in radical new ways of reducing the numbers of employment tribunal claims that require a hearing. The approach is to be known as AADR: Alternative Alternative Dispute Resolution. A BIS spokesperson explains: ‘The value of patient choice is becoming well-recognised in the NHS; this initiative is intended to usher in a new era of litigant choice.’
Innovations discussed in the consultation include:
- Homeopathic settlements: just as homeopathic medicines are the more powerful the less of the active ingredient is present in a solution, the thinking is that some large claims could be settled more satisfactorily with very tiny sums of money than with payments of thousands or tens of thousands of pounds. If this approach works for employment tribunal claims, it may have potential to be rolled out to other areas of the economy.
- Dowsing: parties will stand on either side of a qualified dowser, who will use a hazel twig or a pendulum to determine which side ought to win.
- Combat: the parties will appoint champions, who will settle the matter by mortal combat. The government is consulting on restricting trial by combat to cases likely to be listed for 4 weeks or longer, arguing that it would be disproportionate in shorter cases. (It is thought that this option may require primary legislation.)
- Astrology: after a hearing date has been assigned, an astrologer will draw up personal astrological charts for the parties in order to determine whether either of them is destined to come into – or lose – money that week. The tribunal will then issue a judgment confirming that that which is destined to take place will take place. ‘Que sera’ judgments – as they have already been nicknamed in some circles – will be enforceable in the normal way. A similar system will be trialled for procedural hearings (“Que sera” management discussions).