Review Into Court and Tribunal Fees Published
The House of Commons Justice Committee has published its review into court and tribunal fees.
Employment tribunal fees were introduced by the government in July 2013. Prior to this, there was no charge for a claimant to bring a claim in the employment tribunal. Depending on the type of claim, some claimants must now pay fees of £1,200 in order to bring their claim to a hearing.
According to the House of Commons Justice Committee’s review, the introduction of fees has “had a significant adverse impact on access to justice for meritorious claims" and there has been a significant decline in the number of claims brought. The opinion of the House of Commons Justice Committee is that the level of fees should be "substantially reduced".
In the year up to June 2013, on average just under 13,500 single cases (brought by one person) were submitted to the employment tribunal per quarter. Following the introduction of fees, the number of single cases has decreased to an average of 4,500 per quarter from October 2013 onwards; a decrease of 67%.
The government has previously asserted that the reason for the drop in the number of tribunal claims is due to the success of ACAS early conciliation, which became mandatory in April 2014. The House of Commons Justice Committee’s review, however, is highly critical of the government’s position, calling it "even on the most favourable construction, superficial".
Employers will, for the most part, welcome the news that the number of tribunal claims being brought is in decline and it is undeniable that the introduction of fees will have dissuaded some claimants from bringing weak or vexatious claims. The concern of the House of Commons Justice Committee is that the not insignificant cost of bringing tribunal proceedings will prevent some individuals with a strong claim from having access to justice.
The review can be accessed here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmjust/167/167.pdf
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