Employment tribunal fees review: results announced
On 31 January, courts and justice minister Sir Oliver Heald QC announced the results of the review of employment tribunal fees. Unions and other campaign groups had been pressing the government to abolish the fees, as they led to a 70 per cent reduction in the cases going to the tribunal after their introduction in July 2013 (see page 3 of this issue).
Last year, the House of Commons Justice Committee argued for a substantial cut in the fees, but in a written ministerial statement published on the day the results were announced, Heald said the government’s view was that the fees scheme had been ‘generally successful’ (HCWS445).
Michael Reed, co-author of Employment tribunal claims: tactics and precedents (4th edn, LAG, 2013), told Legal Action: ‘Nobody looking at the facts could doubt that fees have seriously damaged access to justice.’ He believes they ‘inevitably discourage claims and leave rogue employers free to ignore the law’.
Ministers are proposing to adjust the rules under which the fees are waived for the lowest paid and to remove them for claims in which the employer has gone out of business. ‘Any action on the access to justice crisis created by employment tribunal fees is better than nothing, but the minor tweaks being proposed by the government will do nothing to address the fundamental problems created by the fees regime,’ Reed said.

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