Justice Committee Reports on Impact of Employment Tribunal Fees
The House of Commons Justice Committee has published its report following its inquiry into how the introduction of employment tribunal fees has affected access to justice.
Whilst the Committee accepted that it is reasonable for the Government to seek to reduce the number of vexatious claims through the introduction of fees, it concluded that fees have had a significant adverse impact on access to justice for meritorious claims. It rejected the Government’s assertion that the close to 70% drop in claims could largely be explained by the success of Acas early conciliation (which had resulted in the settlement of 83,000 cases). It also considered that the existence of fees acts as a disincentive for employers to resolve disputes at an early stage.
The Committee was highly critical of the fact that the Government has still not published the results of its own post-implementation review of tribunal fees, one year after the review began and six months after it said it would be completed.
The Committee recommended that:
- The level of fees charged for employment tribunal cases should be substantially reduced;
- The distinction between Type A and Type B claims should be removed and replaced, perhaps by a single fee (instead of separate issue and hearing fees), or by a three-tier fee structure, or by a fee set as a proportion of the amount claimed, with the fee waived if the amount claimed is below a certain level;
- Disposable capital and monthly income thresholds for fee remission should be increased and only one fee remission application should be required, covering both the issue and hearing fee;
- Further special consideration should be given to the position of women alleging maternity or pregnancy discrimination, for whom, at the least, the time limit of three months for bringing a claim should be reviewed.
The Committee stated that it is unable to state conclusively whether these measures would, if introduced, adequately address the constraints on access to justice and any changes should therefore be subject to further review and modification as necessary.
The full report of the House of Commons Justice Committee: Courts and Tribunal Fees can be viewed here.
The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.