Employment Tribunal cases increased by 130% since the abolition of fees

The outstanding caseload of employment tribunals has more than doubled over the past 12 months, indicating that the first full year since the abolition of fees for tribunals has led to a huge uplift in cases.

The Ministry of Justice said the number of outstanding single cases was 130% higher in the second quarter of 2018 than the same period in 2017, leading to fears among employment lawyers that the system is struggling to cope with the influx in claims and that cases are taking longer to come to justice.

Without the requirement to pay a fee to have a case heard, more employers are likely to face challenges against employment practices, such as wage deductions, even where the overall financial loss to the individual is small.  In June, the Judicial Appointments Commission launched a recruitment exercise to find 54 salaried employment judges in an effort to meet the demands of the fee-free system, as the backlog of cases builds.

Tribunal fees were abolished in July 2017 after the Supreme Court ruled them unlawful and unconstitutional. The overall number of claims brought to employment tribunals rose by 66% in the first quarter following the Court’s decision, while single claims rose by 64%.

The government took immediate measures to stop charging fees, which could total up to £1,200 per claim, and vowed to refund fees to claimants who had paid them between their introduction in 2013 and 2017.

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