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Employment Law

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Veale Wasborough Vizards , 01 JUL 2016

New report finds access to justice damaged by tribunal fees

New report finds access to justice damaged by tribunal fees
Helen Hughes
Solicitor, Veale Wasbrough Vizards

The House of Commons Justice Committee (the Committee) has published its review into fees charged by courts and tribunals.

Having found that fee reforms have had an adverse impact on access to justice, it has made a number of recommendations, including substantially reducing the current level of employment tribunal fees.

In a report published on 20 June 2016, the Committee has set out the results of its inquiry into the impact of changes to employment tribunal fees, in particular on access to justice. We have previously reported on the responses received by the Committee in its inquiry.

The report deals with the impact of employment tribunal fees changes, which appear to have had a substantial effect on the number of claims which brought (there has been a drop of around 70% since fees were introduced). Based on evidence collated through its inquiry, the Committee concluded that increased fees have had a significant adverse effect on access to justice for meritorious claims.

The Committee's recommendations

The Committee has made a number of recommendations for revising the fee system and restoring what it views as an acceptable level of access to justice, including:

  • substantially reducing the level of fees;
  • reforming the fee system to a more nuanced one, on the basis that categorisation of employment tribunal claims into Type A (including unlawful deductions from wages claims) and Type B (including unfair dismissal and discrimination claims) is too simplistic;
  • increasing the financial thresholds for fee remission, and simplifying the process for applying for fee remission; and
  • special consideration being given to women alleging maternity or pregnancy discrimination.
The report is also highly critical of the government's failure to publish its post-implementation review of fees for employment tribunal cases that was launched on 11 June 2015, and was originally intended to be completed by the end of last year.

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