Salacious details of employment tribunal claims will soon be hitting the headlines before they reach court, following a High Court ruling that the full details of the claim should be open to public scrutiny.
It means that there will be press coverage of tribunals when the case is first lodged with the central office of employment.
Employment lawyer Stephen Short, of Manchester-based consultants Peninsula, warns that this could open the floodgates for litigation as more workers become aware both of their rights and the cases that have resulted in a payout. He also believes it could hamper the chances of the case being resolved during arbitration.
"Employers could be judged before they get to tribunal, and cases may become difficult to resolve as people take their own views regarding a company," he said.
The ruling held that the central office of employment tribunals acted unlawfully because it allowed access only to the names of parties and a bare description of the claims.
"As a matter of public policy, litigation should be conducted under public gaze and scrutiny," said High Court judge, Mr Justice Jackson.
He said that parliament, in the Employment Tribunals Act, had given the public the right to inspect particular cases.
The number of employment tribunals broke the 100,000 barrier for the first time last year after a raft of new legislation was introduced.
Press coverage is now likely to rise as full details of claims for unfair dismissal, sex and race discrimination and other claims are revealed while the claim is still being heard by Acas, the advisory, conciliation and arbitration service.
But insurers were more sceptical about the impact of the ruling. A spokeswoman from Norwich Union, said: "On first impressions they did not believe the judgement would have a major rise in claims at this stage. Though the group has not had a chance to study the ruling in depth they did not suspect it would make any major difference."