Employment Tribunal Fees – Part 2
April 10, 2013 3 Comments
I attended an employment law master class this week given by Daniel Barnett of Outer Temple Chambers and one of the topics covered related to the introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunal. As those of you who read my January post will know, I was initially very much in favour of their introduction, but I have now had a chance to reflect and I am not quite so positive in my views. It now seems apparent that, whilst the introduction of fees will certainly act to significantly reduce the number of claims being pursued, it is unlikely that the reduction will be as a result of those with unmeritorious claims simply deciding not to pursue them. What is more likely is that those with highly meritorious but low value claims will simply not be able to afford to pursue them given that the issue and hearing fees may exceed the value of the claims and those with unmeritorious discrimination claims (i.e. those who believe their perceived claims have significant value) will still bring them in order to try and wrestle a pay off from their (former) employer. That, regrettably, is unlikely to change.
I also said in January that those who cannot afford the fees will be able to invoke the Civil Fees Remission Scheme. However, this is a hugely complex scheme which has been described by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau as not fit for purpose. A Claimant will be entitled to a full remission of fees if he or she is on non-means tested Income Support. However, anyone who loses a job and claims benefits will be on a means-tested benefit. Furthermore, if an individual resigns (even if that resignation is because of a constructive dismissal), or gets a bad reference, there is no entitlement to Job Seekers’ Allowance for 28 weeks. Therefore, in practice, it is going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for individuals to qualify for a full remission of fees.
The introduction of fees, coupled with the introduction of compulsory early conciliation (prior to claims issue), will undoubtedly reduce the number of claims by an estimated 25% – 33%. However, there is no evidence that the Tribunals are currently over-burdened and there is similarly no evidence to suggest that it is the unmeritorious claims which will be filtered out.
So here you have it, a complete U-turn from me. Something which my husband and friends will tell you is an event rarer than hens’ teeth.