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No more tribunal fees, but has it made a difference?

26 March 2018

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in R (on the application of UNISON) v Lord Chancellor last summer, we saw fees for employment tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal being abolished. In the immediate aftermath of the decision, there was speculation as to whether the removal of fees would result in an increase in claims in the future. As figures have become available, those effects have now started to be reported, and make for interesting reading.

Last December the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) published statistics which revealed that claims had increased by 64% between July and September 2017 in comparison to the same period in the previous year. This was the highest increase seen since fees were introduced four years ago. This trend has continued as more recent figures show the increase for October 2017 to December 2017 to be 90% (for single party claims). Rather unsurprisingly, it also records a backlog increase.

The Employment Tribunals National User Group reported in January that the most significant increase was in low-value claims. This is particularly interesting, as it supports the Supreme Court’s concern that these were the type of claims which were discouraged most by having to pay fees. So far the government is reported to have refunded 3,400 payments totalling £2.8 million.

An employment law masters’ graduate with extensive experience in employee relations and negotiations, Helen helps the employment team across areas such as legal research, drafting employment policies and tribunal preparation. She also advises businesses on immigration matters and assists them with securing sponsorship licences. Prior to joining the firm she gained experience in collective consultation and redundancy and restructuring exercises and has also worked as a legal researcher for an employment law barrister.

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Helen Howes LLM
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