A Word from the Editor - August 2020

Alex Lock, DAC Beachcroft LLP
Saturday, August 1, 2020

All good things must come to an end. In one form or another, that is generally attributed to Chaucer in the fourteenth century. While I cannot claim that my editorship of ELA Briefing stretches back that far, it has been over 12 years in total and it is now time for me to click ‘close current document’ and to share, via e-mail, for the last time. And, whether it has been a ‘good thing’ or not, is something that I shall have to leave others to judge, but I have certainly thoroughly enjoyed it.

When I started in 2006 the world of work and employment law was quite different and concerned with different things. There had been seven years of reform, with employment rights being extended to a far wider group of people, as well as a host of new rights having been introduced. There had been some significant updating of things ranging from compensation awards to tribunal rules and procedures. There was a sense of reform and progress, both from employers’ and workers’ perspectives. The number of people claiming to be – and wanting to be – employment lawyers had increased significantly.

The economy had undergone a sustained period of growth, with low unemployment and significant investment in public services. The iPhone had not yet been invented – that would be introduced the following year – and the ‘gig economy’ was no more than a twinkle in the eye of Travis Kalanick. It would take another three years before Uber started. 

The late 2000s brought financial crisis, which of itself did not bring significant change in employment law, but the ensuing years of austerity pursued by the Government did. A restriction of rights and, incautiously, the introduction of employment tribunal fees, marked a shift in the delicate balance to be struck between the competing rights and interests of employers and workers. In my view it was a retrograde step and that, in particular, was rightly challenged and found to be unlawful.

We now have Brexit to contend with and that will be a further big opportunity for significant change in employment law. There is something of a crossroads ahead, which could lead to a ‘Singapore-on-Thames’ shift to a further deregulated labour market, or an opportunity to build on the progress that has been made over the past two decades in creating a better and fairer work environment.

Whatever path is taken, I am confident that ELA Briefing, under its new editor, Marc Jones, will continue to be at the cutting edge of reporting and analysing employment law in the UK and beyond. He will be ably supported by a fantastic editorial board and team at the publishers.

As I sign this off I take the opportunity to thank Marc and the editorial boards I have worked with over the years for their support, patience, humour and hours of unpaid work they have provided over that time to ensure that ELA Briefing lands on your desks 10 times every year. I have edited 122 (I think!).

I would also like to thank all the authors who have contributed over that time, whether they have made the final cut or not. The taking part really does matter and it takes a lot to put your work out to a wider audience for scrutiny and criticism. Finally I would like to thank Matt Bell at our publishers for being an amazing support, as well as Anisha Radia, who do all the behind the scenes work that gets the writing into print.

Over to you Marc…

Alex Lock, DAC Beachcroft LLP

The legal content in this article is believed to be correct and true on this date.