In an interview shortly before the Election, the (now former) Business Secretary Vince Cable reported on the review he had personally commissioned into the impact of the introduction of employment tribunal fees. Figures showed that claims fell by 70% from the first quarter of 2103/14 to the third quarter of 2014/15, with sex discrimination claims down 82% during this period. Although he did accept that some of this may be due to the introduction of early conciliation, Dr Cable expressed his strong view that the fee system should reversed.
Although we now have a new, Conservative, Business Secretary in place, it seems unlikely that this issue will go away, not least because the appeal from the High Court's dismissal of Unison’s judicial review challenge to the introduction of the fees is due to be heard in the Court of Appeal next month.
In addition, a recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that employers are divided over the issue of tribunal fees. Of those polled by the CIPD, 38 per cent said the system should remain as it is, but 36 per cent argued that the fees should either be scrapped or significantly reduced. A further 27 per cent were undecided as to what should be done.
The CIPD described the impact of the introduction of fees, in terms of the drop in claims, as "staggering" and accepted that it must be the case that some valid claims have been discouraged as a result of the new fees.
The CIPD report went on to suggest that it was unlikely that the current fees regime would survive the General Election by many months. We have been told in the past that there would be a post-implementation review and although this was not mentioned in the Conservative manifesto, it is possible that the new Government will now come under pressure to reconsider the position on fees.