Practitioners expecting employment tribunal claims to reduce once fees are introduced

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Employment litigation has not been immune from the effects of the Jackson reforms nor from those designed to reduce the financial burden on the public purse. The clutch of initiatives coming into force this summer includes measures intended to reduce litigation in the employment tribunals (ETs), such as a compulsory period for conciliation and fees to present a claim and to progress it to hearing. ETs have never previously demanded fees of any kind but from 29 July claimants will be required to pay £160 and £230 for issue and hearing respectively of simpler claims such as deductions from wages. For other claims, such as unfair dismissal and discrimination, the corresponding sums are £250 and £950.

Practitioners are expecting the number of claims in the ET to reduce overall. At the very least, this should see off the few claims that are brought as a ‘try-on’ by former employees. But even unmeritorious claims that find their way to full hearings are not usually brought by chancers but by individuals convinced they have been wronged. Also, the fees system sits uneasily with the new conciliation system, designed to encourage settlement prior to issue. Employers may well be inclined to wait and see whether the fee is paid before considering settlement. There is also no repayment of court fees where the claim settles before hearing, unlike the position in the civil courts where refunds are available on a sliding scale…

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