Tribunals system will reel after Supreme Court decision on fees
PUBLISHED: 12:38 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:48 02 August 2017
Michael Stokes, partner in Harrison Clark Rickerbys' employment team, spoke about the ruling: "The decision will have long-term and significant repercussions, partly because the Lord Chancellor has decided that fees paid should be refunded
The Supreme Court decision to abolish fees for employment tribunals as unlawful will cause new pressures on the tribunal system, with fees to be repaid to claimants or employers going back over almost four years, and the number of cases likely to rise because the process will once again be free.
Fees were charged from July 29 2013, and that change led to a 70 per cent drop in the number of cases coming to tribunals, because claimants had to pay an initial £250 fee and then £950 more if the case went to full hearing.
Michael Stokes, partner in Harrison Clark Rickerbys’ employment team, said: “The decision will have long-term and significant repercussions, partly because the Lord Chancellor has decided that fees paid should be refunded.
“Since most people who make a claim have lost their jobs - hence the claim - requiring them to pay nearly £1,200 was always going to mean some very valid claims were simply not made.
“Refunding the fees won’t be simple – it isn’t clear yet if people will need to apply for a refund or it will be automatic, and it also isn’t clear how an employer who had to pay a claimant’s fees as part of their costs will recover that money.
“The Government might try to redesign the system to retain fees in some way, aiming to make the fee regime more balanced by requiring an employer to pay a fee as well as the claimant and by lowering fees (especially for low-value unpaid wages claims).
“But whatever details are agreed, there will inevitably be a rise in claims being brought, and the system will have a great deal to cope with, so that claimants will have to wait longer for their day in court.”
Harrison Clark Rickerbys has 450 staff and partners based at offices Cheltenham, Worcester, Hereford, Birmingham, in the Thames Valley and the Wye Valley, who provide a complete spectrum of legal services to both business and private clients, regionally and nationwide. The firm also has a number of highly successful teams specialising in individual market sectors, including health and social care, education, agricultural and rural affairs, defence, security and the forces, advanced manufacturing and construction.