The number of cases filed at the employment tribunal increased by 90% between September and December last year after fees were abolished, according to figures from the Ministry of Justice.
The figures also showed a big increase of 467% for multiple employment tribunal claims for the period. The Supreme Court overturned the employment tribunal fee regime which came into force in 2013 last July. It described the fee regime as ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’ and said it was both preventing access to justice and indirectly discriminatory. Under the fees regime people had to pay fees of up to £1,200 to file a case before an employment tribunal. This led to a significant decline in cases being filed, particularly with regard to discrimination.
Single claim figures, which have risen by 90%, are considered a more reliable gauge of change. Multiple claims tend to be more volatile in terms of numbers as they can contain a high number of claims against a single employer – for example, in the most recent quarter one large multiple claim against an airline company contributed to approximately 30,000 of the new receipts.
The Ministry of Justice also says that 3,400 fees have been refunded to those charged previously, to the value of £2.8m.
Since the launch of the Employment Tribunal fee refund scheme in October 2017 to 31 December 2017, 4,800 applications for refunds have been received.
The Government announced that all tribunal fees would be repaid to claimants or to the lawyers who had acted on their behalf, along with interest at a rate of 0.5%. Applicants were invited to pre-register an interest in applying before the full refund scheme was rolled out in November. Applicants were then to be contacted directly.