As a result of civil litigation costs reforms, general damages awarded in tort claims for matters such as pain and suffering were increased by a blanket 10%. A Court of Appeal decision in 2012, Simmons v Castle, confirmed that the 10% uplift applied to general damages in all civil claims for matters such as mental distress. This led to the question of whether the uplift should also apply to injury to feelings compensation awarded by the employment tribunal. An inconsistent approach to the issue has been taken by the EAT.
The Court of Appeal has now considered the issue and decided that the increase in general damages does apply in the employment tribunal. It reasoned that the Equality Act requires that the amount awarded by an employment tribunal in respect of a particular head of loss should be the same as if an award for the identical loss had been made in the county court. The various forms of discrimination are conceptually the same whether a claim is made under Part 5 (work) or one of the other Parts of the Equality Act in respect of which a county court would have jurisdiction. The 10% uplift obviously applies in the county court.
The Court of Appeal suggested that the best way for the uplift to be applied was through an adjustment to the Vento bands (which is in practice what has been happening anyway). However, given that the bands also need revising to take account of inflation, the CA suggested that the President of the Employment Tribunals could issue guidance dealing with both points. In the meantime, tribunals are free to make their own adjustments.