Employment Tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013 by the coalition government. The reason for their introduction was that fees would “disincentivise unreasonable behaviour, like pursuing weak or vexatious claims”.
When there was no fee levied for raising a claim, this, in some instances, allowed employees to raise claims which were weak and which would force businesses into having to settle on an economic basis rather than incur the expense of successfully defending the claim.
The introduction of fees has not eradicated the problem of service users taking advantage of the system. Arguably the problem still exists and it is simply that the advantage is now with the employer. Employers can use the prospect of an upcoming fee to pressure an employee into settling their claim for a lower amount, rather than risk incurring a further fee.
The introduction of Tribunal fees have not had the impact that was intended. The reason fees were introduced, as mentioned above, was to combat weak and vexatious claims. This should, on the face of it, have resulted in more claims to the Employment Tribunal being successful but in reality there has been a slight decrease. Figures released by HM Courts and Tribunals Service highlight that in the 9 months prior to the introduction of fees the percentage of successful claims was 15.3% and that this figure has in fact fallen to an average of 12.6% since fees were introduced.
It is clear that Employment Tribunal fees have not had the intended impact, and have prevented low-income employees from access to justice, rather than their principal aim of combatting weak or vexatious claims.
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