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Are Employment Tribunal fees about to be abolished?

With Scotland having already announced the abolition of fees, it appears we may be a step closer to taking this step in England, even in the wake of Unison’s thus far unsuccessful legal challenges to the fee regime.

The findings are embarrassing for the government, but so far have had little political impact, particularly as the press have been focused on Brexit.

The key findings of the report are:

  • A significant drop in the number of employment tribunal claims.
  • The assertion by the government that this drop is due to the success of ACAS Early Conciliation is “even on the most favourable construction, superficial”.
  • Fees have reduced the access to justice for valid claims.
  • The ‘Type A’ and ‘Type B’ distinction does not relate to the complexity or length of cases.
  • The level of fees should be substantially reduced.
  • The remission system should be overhauled, with only one application needed (to cover both issue and hearing fees)
  • A recommendation that the three month time limit in pregnancy discrimination cases should be reviewed.

It is too early to tell what impact the report will have, but the tide seems to be increasingly turning towards a major reform, perhaps even the scrapping of the fee system that had been welcomed by many employers as an end to the ‘day of the litigants’. Watch this space.

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