Last month we reported the results of a review commissioned by the former Business Secretary Vince Cable into the impact of the introduction of employment tribunal fees, showing that claims fell by 70% from the first quarter of 2013/14 to the third quarter of 2014/15. The latest official data from the Ministry of Justice (up to March 2015) shows a 52% decrease in single claims in 2014/15 compared to 2013/14. In the meantime, 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 any time now.
When the fees system was first introduced two years ago, the then Government committed itself to a post-implementation review and although this was not mentioned in the Conservative manifesto, the new Government has now announced a review.
The review is to assess the effectiveness of fees in meeting the original objectives, which were to transfer a proportion of the costs from the taxpayer to those who use the system and to encourage parties to look for alternative ways to resolve disputes, balanced against the need to maintain access to justice. The review will also look at the scheme for remission of fees for those who cannot afford them. The review will take into account evidence such as:
- statistics on volumes and outcomes of tribunal cases; income received from fees; costs of fee recovery and fee remissions;
- the extent of the reduction in weak or unmeritorious claims;
- the general trend of tribunal cases pre and post-implementation;
- the take up of alternative services, such as ACAS conciliation (mandatory and voluntary).
The results of the review are expected later in the year, followed by consultation on any proposed recommendations. It would not be a surprise if at least some tweaking of the system were to be suggested.