The Lord Chancellor, David Lidington, has suggested to MPs that employment tribunal fees should be reinstated, in a bid to deter frivolous claims.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the high level of employment tribunal fees was unlawful. However, speaking to the justice select committee, Mr Lidington said that the judgment did not entirely rule out charging fees. He said that he believes the fees are a necessary contribution to costs. He also claimed they acted as a deterrent to those looking to make unnecessary claims.
Got the balance wrong
But Mr Lidington did admit that the Government had got the balance wrong regarding the amount charged. He said that the Government must act carefully when it came to affordability. Whilst there had been a drop in claims since the introduction of the fees, he argued that it was impossible to know the true reason for this. He said that a person may have been put off by the fees, or perhaps persuaded that their case wouldn’t win.
Return of fees not a surprise
Critics of employment tribunal fees say that as the Government hasn’t changed its views on the importance of employment tribunal fees, these comments didn’t come as a surprise. However, only a small amount of money was ever generated by these fees and only covered a fraction of the total costs of a tribunal. With expectations that any new fee system would be at an even lower rate in order to be lawful, it’s likely that even less money would be brought in from employment tribunal fees.
Refund plans rolled out
The Lord Chancellor’s remarks followed the Ministry of Justice’s announcement regarding the first phase of its refund scheme which was launched in October 2017. The scheme will reimburse those people who had paid fees after they were brought in during 2013. In the first phase of refunds, around 1,000 people who had contacted the Government since July 2017 are due to have their fees repaid along with interest. The refund scheme has now been rolled out to everyone else, including employers that were instructed to pay the tribunal costs of a successful claimant.