Employment tribunal claims rise after government scraps fees

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Dec 15, 2017
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The number of tribunal claims rose by two thirds in the last quarter

David Davies/PA

Employment tribunal claims have leapt by nearly 65 per cent, government figures showed yesterday, after the Supreme Court ruled that it was unlawful to force claimants to pay fees.

Single claimant cases rose by 64 per cent between July and August compared with the same period last year, but multiple claims dropped by 15 per cent, according to Ministry of Justice figures.

During four years in which fees were charged, from July 2013 to the same month this year, 66 per cent were paid in full, but 22 per cent of claimants were granted full or partial remission of the charges.

The government has started refunding claimants after the Supreme Court ruling in July. It is estimated that Whitehall will ultimately have to repay up to £32 million.

Employment law specialists said that the significant increase in claims was predictable. Alex Denny, a partner at the London office of the US law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, said that the rise “seems to confirm the court’s finding that the fees regime acted as a barrier to individuals accessing the tribunals”.

Nicholas Le Riche, a partner at the London law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, agreed. “Fees really were having a profound impact on whether people decided to bring claims, and it will be interesting to see whether this level of claims will be sustained,” he said. 

Denny acknowledged that the increase in claims was concerning for employers, but predicted that “tribunals will continue to exercise their ability to weed out claims which are vexatious or have no reasonable chance of success, including by ordering costs against vexatious or unreasonable claimants”.

Jeff Middleton, a partner at the Liverpool law firm Hill Dickinson, argued that “claim levels still seem to have a long way to go to return to their pre-employment tribunal fees levels”.

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