Thompsons Solicitors’ chief executive Stephen Cavalier has appeared before the House of Commons Justice Select Committee to make the case against the last government’s introduction of tribunal fees, which have seriously impeded access to justice fees by putting claimants’ ability to pay at the heart of the justice system.

In September, Thompsons Solicitors responded to a government consultation where it argued that the introduction of tribunal fees, and increases in civil court fees and criminal court charges, were deterring people who have borne the brunt of shoddy, illegal or discriminatory behaviour at work from making entirely valid claims against their employers.

Following the introduction of fees for employment tribunals in 2013, the number of cases taken to the tribunal has fallen dramatically. Many experts are concerned that fees are having a severe, negative impact on people’s ability, particularly those on low and average household incomes and more vulnerable members of society, to exercise a democratic right to access the justice system.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee on 17 November, Thompsons Solicitors’ chief executive Stephen Cavalier said: "Tribunal fees deter valid claims and are not cost-effective, The government’s purpose in introducing employment tribunal fees was to deter claims, not to cover the cost of tribunals. There has been no analysis of the extra cost of staffing and administration. Fees are not a cost effective measure. There is no evidence that they are effective at weeding out vexatious claims. The government should abolish the fees.

“The government should address the serious issues of Employment Tribunal awards which remain unpaid by employers and cannot be enforced and the charging of tribunal fees to workers who’ve lost their job with an insolvent employer and cannot recover those fees so are out of pocket. The government should also address the issue of government departments failing to engage in ACAS early conciliation in claims brought by their employees.”