Employment Tribunal Fees – Part 2

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.

About these ads

About Belinda Lester
As a specialist employment solicitor, my work is divided between litigation and non-contentious matters. I advise predominantly small to medium sized companies on their ongoing employment and HR issues, with a view to avoiding litigation where at all possible. At this time of economic uncertainty, many enquiries relate to company reorganisation/restructure and redundancies and I am able to give clear guidance through the processes associated with these issues. I have extensive experience of representing both Claimants and Respondents in the Employment Tribunal.

3 Responses to Employment Tribunal Fees – Part 2

  1. I was talking to a Regional Trade Union Official the other week and their Union will be covering Tribunal fees for their members for qualifying cases. So one unintended consequence of the introduction of fees may be that trade union membership will increase which is a feat that the labour party did not manage during their term in office.

  2. That’s very interesting. Although, presumably, the unions will only back claims they believe to be meritorious?

  3. Matt Jackson says:

    There’s a small error in the comment about JSA and resignations. There is an entitlement to JSA when you have left voluntarily as long as you have just cause for leaving. The 26 week sanction is discretionary; if the Job Centre decides you do not have just cause (which can be appealed to the First-tier Tribunal) the sanction can be between 1 and 26 weeks.

    Depending on your national insurance contributions record, the benefit you receive if you’re out of work might not actually be means tested. There are also slightly complex rules about being entitled to JSA but being sanctioned so that for the purposes of things like housing benefit and fee remissions you are still entitled to JSA even though you are not paid for it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 709 other followers

%d bloggers like this: