MP suggests that Tribunal fees are being kept under review.
According to Government statistics the number of Employment Tribunal claims has dropped by up to 80% since the introduction of tribunal fees, and are now apparently at the lowest levels since records began. It is without doubt a controversial subject. Only this month Jenny Willott (Minister for employment relations and consumer affairs) suggested that the level of fees may be reviewed. Last week Enterprise Minister, Matthew Hancock, hailed the drop as being the end of the tribunal system “ruthlessly exploited by people seeking to make a fast buck.” In the middle ground some commentators such as policy advisor Richard Dunstan, have proposed an alternative fee regime of nominal fees, for example, an issue fee of £50, a respondent’s fee of £50 to defend a claim, a hearing fee of £50 for each party, and a ‘losing’ fee for the unsuccessful party of £250 – £500, the full proposal is an interesting read.
So what now?
Jenny Willott MP, confirmed this month that a number of aspects of the Tribunal system will be under review and that “one of those issues I am sure will be the level of fees”. She did however also comment that although there was a “lot of parliamentary scrutiny”, it was too soon to judge the impact of the system.
Jenny Willott’s comments came only weeks after the High Court dismissed a challenge by Unison to the introduction of employment tribunal fees. Jenny Willott’s comments appear to be consistent with the Court’s approach. Although the High Court dismissed the challenge, it noted that the fundamental difficulty with the case was that it had been brought prematurely and that robust evidence (that the High Court would need to see in order to overturn the fee system) was not available. The High Court did also make it clear that that the Lord Chancellor will be under a duty to amend the fee regime if future evidence/statistics show that EU law is being infringed. Unison has since announced its intention to appeal to the Court of Appeal. For more information about the grounds on which Unison is challenging Tribunal fees listen to our short podcast.
It therefore appears that the controversy and scrutiny surrounding Tribunal fees will continue.
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To understand the grounds of challenge made by Unison against tribunal fees listen to the podcast below.
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