Could This Be The End of Employment Tribunal Fees?
Since July 2013 UK employees have been expected to pay fees for employment tribunal cases, with costs dependent upon the complexity of each case.
This policy was introduced because of an influx of claims that had little hope of winning. It was believed that many of these cases involved exaggerated or completely false claims that were initiated without regard for the tribunal costs they would incur, largely due to employees not having to worry about paying the amount themselves.
Sure enough, after the fee system was established two years ago the number of claims taking place at the London central employment tribunal experienced a clear drop. But while this change certainly filtered out many spurious cases, legal experts have argued that it has also caused employees with genuine grievances not to seek justice for the treatment they’ve suffered due to concern over the payment of fees.
Former business secretary Vince Cable promised a review of the system last year, which has now finally been undertaken. Such an assessment will examine the volume of cases over the past two years and whether workers have been negatively affected by the fees.
This review will also explore whether changes to employment law has had an effect on the volume of claims, as well as assessing if social change and economic improvement has affected tribunal actions.
Challenges from Unison
The system of tribunal fees has long been criticised by legal organisations, with none more vocal than Unison, which in February 2014 proposed the new legislation be reviewed. The High Court rejected this challenge on the grounds that insufficient time had passed during the seven months the fees had been in place, thereby rendering a fair review not possible.
Unison made a second effort at challenging the fees system in December 2014, and this time the organisation provided statistical data showing how vulnerable groups are being discouraged from taking legal action against employers. The High Court again ruled against Unsion who then took their case to the Court of Appeal. A second hearing will be heard later this month.
Earlier this year it was claimed that there had been a 70% drop in employment tribunal cases since the introduction of fees in 2013. Such a dramatic drop suggests it very likely that authentic cases are getting discouraged by fees that are just too high, even if such charges filter out a number of falsified claims.
Will the fees be overturned at the second hearing later this month?