Employment Tribunal fees review
We have for some time been pondering the implications of the downward trend in tribunal claims – good news for employers, in many ways, but raising serious issues over the impact of fees on access to justice for many potential claimants. Whilst there had been a slight downturn in claims prior to the introduction of the new system in July 2013, it is very hard to escape the conclusion that the fee regime was the real catalyst for the subsequent slump.
The government has for some time been talking about a review/assessment/consultation on the fee issue (we were told in June last year that this was nearly ‘finalised’). The launch has now been announced a year later.
Both the ambit and timing of the announcement have raised eyebrows. It doesn’t refer to consultation either with users or stakeholders and suggests instead that a data exercise will be undertaken (possibly looking hard for other, non-fee-related reasons for the drop). And coming a couple of weeks before Unison’s judicial review hearing in the Court of Appeal, the announcement does smack somewhat of last minute back covering. I’m no expert on data or figures forecasting (quite the reverse, as those who have had to tidy up some of my efforts in this area can attest), but I’ll be interested to see what possible other reasons the MOJ number crunchers may come up with for what seems to me to be a pretty blunt and clear cut cause (fees) and effect (drop in claims).