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Workers priced out of employment tribunals

View profile for Adam Pennington
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Is it time to review the compensation limits for discrimination claims?

Recent study of government figures by TUC has unveiled a shocking 60% drop in the number of employment tribunal cases filed since the introduction of increased fees back in 2013.

Employment tribunal cases including sexism, racism and disability have fallen from 16,000 a month in 2013 to 7,000 in 2016. 

The TUC found unfair dismissal claims to have fallen by 73 per cent since 2012-13, the year before the introduction of the fees. Sexual discrimination cases have dropped by 71 per cent, racial discrimination by 58 per cent and disability by 54 per cent.

The TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady is calling on the government to scrap the tribunal fees as, "people are being priced out of justice".

Adam Pennington, employment solicitor, Stephensons said: “The types of claims referred to in the study, such as discrimination and unfair dismissal, attract a £250 issue fee which is payable at the onset of the case at the employment tribunal. Thereafter, a £950 hearing fee will become payable, usually around one month before the substantive hearing. 
 
Unlike cases determined at the County Court for example, where the losing party pays the winning party’s legal costs, at the employment tribunal the usual position is that each party bears its own costs, unless either party has acted unreasonably or vexatiously in some way. In which case the tribunal has the discretion to award costs to the losing party.
 
The prospect of not being able to recover their legal costs, even if they are successful, together with the increase in tribunal fees, may well explain why there has been a decrease in the number of claims being pursued.
 
It is important to note however that anyone can, subject to their financial means, apply for a remission of tribunal fees. Successful applicants will either be required to pay a certain proportion of the tribunal fees or nothing at all”.

The Ministry of Justice stands by the increase and issued a statement saying that " those who use our tribunals should contribute to the £71m cost of running the service".

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