There has been much debate relating to the introduction of Employment Tribunal Fees and the impact these have had on the Employment Tribunal system.
Last year, UNISON was unsuccessful in Judicial Review proceedings to challenge the introduction of the fee regime.
By bringing the Judicial Review, UNISON sought to quash the fees regime on the basis that it was “unjust and discriminatory”. It was further argued that it prevented individuals whose rights had been infringed from entering into a system designed to help them hold their employer accountable. The challenge failed, largely because the High Court considered it too soon to assess the impact of fees in the Employment Tribunal system. Put simply, there was not enough evidence to support the arguments being made.
Following that decision, UNISON appealed to the Court of Appeal. At the Court of Appeal, it was agreed that the best way forward would be for UNISON to bring fresh Judicial Review proceedings at which they would be able to rely on Employment Tribunal statistics produced over a 12 month period.
Those Appeal proceedings took place last week and UNISON argued that recent statistics revealed a substantial and sustained drop in claims; particularly discrimination rights.
Employment Tribunal statistics show that there has been a 70% reduction in ‘single’ claims received between April and June 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. ‘Single claims’ are those made by a sole employee/worker, which can be contrasted with ‘multiple claims’, where two or more people bring proceedings arising out of the same facts, usually against the same employer. Single claims provide the more reliable gauge of trends in the Employment Tribunal.
The number of multiple claims was 4,748 which related to 453 multiple claim cases brought between April and June 2014. The number of multiple claim cases has similarly been falling, from around 1,500 in the comparable period last year, prior to the introduction of fees.
Overall this equates to an 82% drop in claims per quarter as between April – June 2013 and the same period in 2014. The statistics do not record where individuals have contemplated bringing an Employment Tribunal claim but chosen not to owing to the imposition of fees.
It is likely that we will not have a verdict on this case until the New Year but in any event it may not prove to be the end of the matter. There could be further appeals and there has been an undertaking by the Government to keep the fee regime under review. However, even if UNISON meet with success in their claim, it seems most likely that the outcome would be a reduction in the fees payable, rather than the entire fee regime being overturned.
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