The Ministry of Justice has published statistics on the volume of employment tribunal claims during the last quarter, as well as its annual statistics for 2016/2017. What do these tell us?
Fees still impacting on claims
Employment tribunal fees (introduced in July 2013) remain a controversial issue. Some argue that they have helped to weed out nuisance claims, therefore helping to protect employers from unnecessary expense in defending vexatious claims; whereas others argue that they have acted as a barrier to access to justice in respect of valid claims. Workbox users can access information on tribunal fees here.
In the year leading up to March 2017, the employment tribunal received 88,476 claims. This is an increase of 5,445 on the previous year; but represents a drop of over 100,000 since 2012/2013 (the last full reporting year before fees were introduced).
Comparing the quarterly statistics for January to March 2017 with the equivalent period in 2013, further emphasises the fact that the employment tribunal is now processing substantially fewer cases.
What does this mean for employers?
Although tribunal users are becoming accustomed to the fee system, it is clear from the statistics that there remains a marked reduction in claims since the introduction of fees. Despite this, the awards in respect of successful claims can be high: in the most recently published award statistics from 2015/2016, by way of example, the average award for a case involving sex discrimination was £85,622 (with the top award for a sex discrimination case reaching £1,762,130). It therefore remains important for employers to take early advice on the merits of defending a claim when faced with the prospect of potential litigation. Contact Brodies employment team if you need further advice.