The House of Commons Justice Committee has recently published its critical review of Court and Tribunal Fees. The review extensively covers the impact of Tribunal Fees and looks into the level of safeguards that the Fee Remission system realistically offers in regards to access to justice.
The Main Points (Conclusions)
Firstly the report acknowledges the fact that Employment Tribunal claims have dropped significantly since the introduction of fees. Evidence showed that in comparison to the first three months of 2013, claims in 2015 had reduced alarmingly with Unfair Dismissal claims “down by 72%”.
The report identifies that ET Fees impact adversely on the effectiveness of ACAS Early Conciliation: “in many cases the existence of fees erects a disincentive for employers to resolve disputes at an early stage”.
Finally it was concluded that “the regime of employment tribunal fees has had a significant adverse impact on access to justice for meritorious claims.”
The Main Points (Recommendations)
The report sets out four main recommendations:
• Firstly the report called for “substantially reduced” Employment Tribunal fees for pursuing claims.
• Secondly the report recommended the abolition of the current Type A and B distinction, to be replaced by either a three tier system or a system where the amount payable is attributable to the amount claimed.
• Thirdly the report addresses issues with the fee remission programme claiming: “disposable, capital and monthly income thresholds should be increased and no more than one fee remission application should be required, covering both the issue fee and the prospective hearing fee… with the threshold for exemption calculated on the assumption that both fees will be paid”.
• Finally the Committee calls for an increase on the three month time limit to bring an Employment Claim for women who are claiming “maternity or pregnancy discrimination”.
Overall the report is very critical of ET fees, especially in regards to limiting access to justice, which can be plainly seen from the following closing statement: “we stress again that if there were to be a binary choice between income from fees and preservation of access to justice, the latter must prevail as a matter of broader public policy.”
Full report available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmjust/167/167.pdf