October 31, 2013

The impact of the new legislation for tribunal fees

Following the controversial introduction of fees to submit employment tribunal claims, on July 29th 2013, you’re probably wondering how it will affect your business…

The measure has been the subject of a legal challenge instigated by the union Unison in the form of a Judicial Review heard at the High Court on October 22nd and 23rd.The outcome will be announced sometime in November, but it is widely expected that the requirement to pay fees will remain and at worst (or best) will be modified.

As part of the process of measuring the impact since July 29th, the Ministry of Justice published an ad-hoc statistical report  on October 18th 2013 entitled “Employment Tribunal Receipt Statistics (Management Information): July to September 2013”.

Prior to July the normal monthly average number of claims received was 17,000. The raw top line figures for June, July, August and September respectively were 25,000, 17,000, 7,000 and 14,000.

June’s spike is attributed by observers to claims being submitted earlier than they would otherwise have been in order to beat the introduction of fees. The average was maintained in July. The dip in August is attributed not mainly to the introduction of fees but to the fact that many claims that would have gone in during August had gone in already in June and July.

The figure of 14,000 in September is not a huge drop on the pre-fee average but  should be treated with caution for a couple of reasons.  Monthly data on receipts are volatile due to receipt of multiple cases  which can include over 100 received claims per case and on occasion over 1,000. Mulitple cases are, as the name suggests, ones where two or more individuals bring a claim against the same Respondents. A small number of multiple cases can impact significantly on the statistics for any particular month.

Although there has been a reduction in the number of single claims received (where just  one person is bringing the claim), this reduction may be temporary and exaggerated due to the introduction of the fees remission system.  Unless the Claimant is enclosing the fee payment with the Claim Form, they have to indicate that they believe that they qualify for remission and that they will apply for it.

The remission claim form is not sent with the ET1 but is issued and returned after the ET1 is received. Only when a remission application is approved is the claim entered on the management information system and only then would it be included in the above statistics.  The unknown quantity is the number of claim forms that have been submitted but have not yet made it through the process of a decision on remission. It is widely speculated that there are a significant number of claims awaiting attention in the Leicester processing centre, but no one knows how many.

So for the time being the overall numbers are down but not dramatically and the true picture is yet to emerge.

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