On 8 March 2018 the Ministry of Justice published the Provisional Tribunals and Gender Recognition Statistics for the quarterly period from October to December 2017. The statistics within this report are compared to the same quarter for the previous year.
The report focuses on the three largest tribunals. The Employment Tribunal’s cases represent about a third of the total and this newsletter will focus solely on the employment tribunal statistics.
Employment Tribunal Fees Refund Scheme
In July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that ET fees were unlawful because they had the effect of preventing access to justice. As a result, fees for ET and Employment Appeal Tribunal claims are no longer charged. All fees that were previously paid and not subject to a full remission are now eligible for a full refund.
The ET fee refund scheme was introduced in October 2017 and was rolled out to all applicants on 15 November 2017. Between 20 October 2017 and 31 December 2017, 4800 refund applications were received and 4,273 were processed.
Of the applications received, 93% of refund applications (4,453) were received relating to cases brought in England and Wales. The remaining 7% (347 applications) were from Scotland.
By 31 December 2017, the MOJ had made 3,337 refund payments, with a total monetary value of £2,758,316.
Single Claims – those made by a sole employee/worker, relating to alleged breaches of employment rights
In October to December 2017, single employment claims that were accepted by the ET (receipts) were up by 90%.
Disposals of single claims (a closure of a case when work has ceased to be done, through the claim being withdrawn, settled, dismissed or being decided at a hearing) increased by 21%.
The backlog of single claims also increased by 66%.
Single claim receipts for the period 2014/15 were around 4200 claims per quarter. However, since quarter 2 2017/18, there were increases in receipts to 8,173 single claims.
The report suggests that the increase in single claims is most likely due to the abolition of ET Fees on 26 July 2017.
Multiple Claims – those where two or more people bring proceedings arising out of the same facts, usually against a common employer
There were 31,921 multiple claims received this quarter which is an increase of 467% on the same period last year. There was one large multiple claim recorded in this quarter against an airline company which contributed to approximately 30,000 of the new receipts. The multiple claims related to 548 multiple claim cases (an average of 58 claims per multiple case) this was up from 265 cases (average of 21 claims per case) in the same period one year ago.
The statistics provided by the MOJ (summarised above) suggest that there is a strong correlation between the abolition of employment tribunal fees and the increase in claims brought at the tribunals. Of course, many predicted that ET claims would suffer following the introduction of fees, and suffer they did, with a dramatic drop in new claims. However, the new MOJ statistics show that the abolition of fees following the Supreme Court judgment in R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor  UKSC 51 (see blog) has removed the barrier employees faced to access justice. One wonders how the EAT failed to see that the introduction of fees was so very wrong, when it was so plain to see for everyone else. It remains to be seen whether this trend will continue and it will be interesting to see what the figures will be at 12 months post abolition of fees.