Government reforms (4): Tribunal fees – on their way down (again!)

tribunal fees - stack of pound coinsWhat do we already know?

We reported in a Newsflash in March Claims heading down… and our June Newsletter Government reforms (1): Tribunal claims and fees – here to stay or gone tomorrow? that the number of Tribunal claims being brought was on the decline – most likely linked to the introduction of Tribunal fees in July 2013.   UNISON is challenging the Tribunal fee regime.

What’s new?

Statistics published on 11 September 2014 for the period of April to June 2014 show a further fall in Tribunal claims. This marks the third quarter in a row that the number of new claims fell.

These latest figures published by the Ministry of Justice show a 70% reduction in claims made by individuals in April to June 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. The number of multiple group claims has similarly been falling. Overall this equates to an 82% drop in claims per quarter as between April – June 2013 and the same the period in 2014. This is the lowest number recorded in a three-month period since statistics were first published in 2008/09.

Not only do these statistics confirm that the reduction in the number of Tribunal claims since Tribunal fees were introduced, it also shows that compulsory early conciliation (EC) is impacting on the number of claims (see ‘Government Reforms (3): ACAS Early Conciliation – An Update’ above.)

UNISON’s judicial review proceedings

UNISON continues to pursue its judicial review proceedings against the Government in order to overturn the Tribunal fees regime. UNISON’s arguments were rejected by the High Court following a hearing last year and UNISON appealed to the Court of Appeal.

However, on 18 September 2014, UNISON applied to admit new evidence at a preliminary appeal hearing against the High Court’s decision. In light of this, the Court of Appeal has reportedly decided to stay the appeal proceedings.

In its initial dismissal of UNISON’s claims the High Court had observed that the challenge was brought prematurely and that, as a result, it lacked robust evidence. No doubt the fresh evidence that UNISON has applied to admit will include the latest statistics to show the negative impact of the fees regime on employees’ access to justice.

In the meantime, the Government has committed to keeping the Tribunal fee scheme under review.