From 29 July 2013 claimants must pay a fee to issue an Employment Tribunal claim and a further fee to have the case heard. There are two levels of fees depending on the type of case, with unfair dismissal and discrimination claims costing £1,200. Prospect argued strongly against the introduction of fees as it would deny access to justice for many people.
New figures on tribunal claims submitted up to the end of September show an average of around 4,300 individual claims per month from January to June 2013. In July the figure went up to almost 7,000 claims, with people presenting claims to beat the introduction of fees at the end of July. In August the figure fell to just over 3,000 and in September to 1,000 claims. The eventual figure for September may increase somewhat as claims are registered once fees or remission applications have been processed.
Some of the fall in September may be due to claims being presented early in July, but it is unlikely that this would account for a high proportion of the reduction. The fall suggests, unsurprisingly, that many people are deterred from presenting claims because of the high cost.
Prospect saw a large increase in claims in July, as we worked to beat the fee deadline, and consequently few cases were issued in August. But since then claims have been consistent. As Prospect has agreed to pay the fee for all cases we support, members are cushioned from the effect of fees.
Marion Scovell, Prospect Legal Officer, said 'The large fall off in tribunal claims shows the impact of the Government's attack on workers' rights. Prospect members have the security that when things go wrong the union will be there to support them with expert advice and to ensure access to justice. More than ever union membership is essential.'