According to figures just published by the Government, the number of tribunal claims received in October to December 2013 were down by 79 per cent compared to the same period in 2012 and 75 per cent fewer than last quarter.
The number of claims received in the period from October to December 2013 was just 9,801 compared to an average of 50,000 new claims per quarter in 2012/13. The number of single cases lodged in July 2013 fell from nearly 7,000 to 1,000 cases in September 2013.
The government is reluctant to acknowledge that these huge drops are most probably due to the introduction of tribunal fees at the end of July 2013. Instead it warns readers to be cautious when interpreting the figures and says that the data in the report, Tribunal Statistics Quarterly, may be revised in the next official publication due to come out on 12 June 2014.
It also warns that, under the business processes to facilitate fee-charging, a claim is not entered onto the internal case management system from which statistical data are extracted until the relevant fee is paid or remission application granted. This means there may be a number of claims presented post July 2013, but only formally accepted at a later stage (for example after a remission application is granted)
The report also found that:
- the trend in single claims has been declining for the last five years, while the trend in multiple claims is more volatile due to large numbers of claims against a single employer which can skew the national figures and have to be resubmitted each quarter
- employment tribunals disposed of 34,767 claims during October to December 2013, 36 per cent higher than the same period in 2012
- the number of disposals for single claims decreased by 32 per cent, while the number for multiple claims more than doubled
The application and hearing fees in a number of tribunal proceedings will be changed as of 6 April 2014. A number of minor errors in the fee remissions system will also be amended on that date as some proceedings which should have attracted Type B fees were wrongly included in the table for Type A fees in the statutory instrument and have now been removed from it. These include complaints in relation to a breach of a sex equality clause under the Equality Act and a complaint in relation to the failure of an employer to inform or consult under TUPE.
Emma Game of Thompsons commented: “The impact of the fee system seems to be having the desired effect and backs up what most people predicted would happen. Following the forthcoming changes in April 2014, whether this trend continues will have to be seen.
“Interestingly, UNISON lost its application for a judicial review in February on the basis that it was too early to make a decision about the impact of the fees. However, it certainly seems that the impact is being felt and is having a devastating impact on access to justice.”
To access the tribunal report, go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/289342/tribunal-stats-oct-dec-2013.pdf
To access the statutory instrument on fees, go to: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/590/made