In May 2013, we blogged about the introduction of charges from 29 July 2013 to raise or appeal a claim at the Employment Tribunal. The Law Society of Scotland has since noted that new cases lodged with the UK’s Employment Tribunals have plummeted by about three quarters.
The new fee structure involves payment of an issue fee when the claim is submitted and a hearings fee to be paid prior to the full merits hearing.
The Ministry of Justice’s Tribunal Statistics Quarterly for October to December 2013 reveal that 9,801 claims were received in that period, some 79% fewer than in the same period of 2012 and 75% fewer than the previous quarter. Clearly, the introduction of fees is having a dramatic impact.
Claimants on a low income may not be required to pay the full fees and the Government has stated it is committed to reviewing the fee structure once implemented to assess its impact, in order to consider if changes are needed.
The Government’s reasons for the reforms are said to be to avoid “drawn-out disputes” which are “very emotionally damaging for workers and employees, as well as being financially damaging for employers”. Few would argue with that but those aims might have been achieved by more robust case management, weeding out weak cases and striking out cases for unreasonable behaviour, rather than introducing a system which potentially deters those with genuine cases from enforcing their rights, purely for financial reasons.