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Abolish Employment Court to prune costs

Abolish Employment Court to prune costs

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) is suggesting the Employment Court should be abolished to prune increasing business costs.

The call follows a speech by Chief Employment Court Judge Tom Goddard late last year when he said compensation awards in personal grievance cases were too low.

"Judge Goddard's comments are already having an undesirable effect on decisions of the Employment Relations Authority," said Peter Tritt, EMA's Employment Relations Manager.

"The amounts awarded for the subjective factors of 'humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings' were steadily rising last year.

"A December 2002 Authority decision took the pay out to a record high of $35,000, way beyond the $5,000 benchmark established by the Court of Appeal in its first decision under the Employment Relations Act.

"If Judge Goddard is concerned about the cost of justice to applicants he could readily concede the abolition of his court as an obvious way to reduce costs.

"The Employment Court is already unnecessary. It's a costly third tier in what is effectively a four-tier system with mediation, the Employment Relations Authority, the Employment Court and the Court of Appeal.

"Also its decisions are often overturned as being found wrong in law by the Court of Appeal.

"If the new Supreme Court Bill proceeds, it would allow yet a further level of appeal on employment cases making the Employment Court doubly redundant."

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