The government has come under fire in a report released by the Justice Select Committee which today (20 June 2016) concluded on the basis of overwhelming evidence that “the regime of Employment Tribunal fees has had a significant adverse impact on access to justice”.

The report found that there was insufficient basis to justify the government’s proposals on Employment Tribunals and that the existence of fees has dis-incentivised employers from resolving disputes at an early stage.

The UK’s largest specialist employment law firm Thompsons Solicitors, which gave evidence to the Committee, has welcomed the report and recommendations, and endorses the committee’s criticism of the government’s imposition of costly court and Tribunal fees.

Stephen Cavalier, chief executive at Thompsons who gave evidence to the Committee said: “We welcome the Committee's thorough and thoughtful report: its findings are a damning indictment of the government's shameful approach to and poorly thought out imposition of fees.

“As we have said from the outset, fees in Employment Tribunals have denied access to justice to thousands of individuals who have been mistreated at work. The government’s imposition of fees has been exposed as superficial and lacking in evidence.”

The Justice Select Committee stated in its report that while it did not object to the principle to charging fees, the levels that were acceptable would depend on the type of jurisdiction. Crucially, the report concluded that “where there is conflict between the objective of achieving cost recovery and preserving access to justice, the latter objective must prevail”.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice released last year showed a 67% decline in the number of Tribunals since fees were introduced in 2013.

“The government must act on this clear and authoritative report,” insisted Mr Cavalier.

“The current fee system should be scrapped immediately and the government must consult on a system which meets the intended objective of preserving access to justice and meets the Committee’s statement of fundamental principle."

Thompsons welcomes the Committee’s recommendations that the overall quantum of fees should be substantially reduced; that the structure of fees should be simplified and that remissions should be more extensive and more generous, giving additional special consideration for maternity and pregnancy discrimination claims.