The figures continue to show a downturn in claims raised in the Employment Tribunal - single claims were down by approximately 12% compared to the same period in 2013. It is worth pointing out that this 12% reduction follows on from a huge reduction in the same period in 2013 compared to the same period in 2012 following the introduction of Tribunal fees in July 2013. The October to December 2013 figures revealed a 63% drop in single claims compared to October to December 2012.
Since the introduction of Tribunal fees the number of Tribunal claims has plummeted. Whilst the fee regime reduces the burden on the UK taxpayer and, arguably, is good news from an employer's perspective, it has been argued that this denies access to justice for many employees who have valid claims. Employment Tribunal fees are considered in the Ministry of Justice's report in Annex D: Experimental Statistics (see below).
The report also includes information and statistics on the fee remission scheme that was set up alongside the introduction of Tribunal fees. In the period 1 October 2013 - 30 September 2014, 11,338 fee remission applications were made in respect of the issue fee (£160 for type A claims, and £250 for type B claims) and 2,494 applications made in respect of the hearing fee (£230 for type A claims and £950 for type B claims). Of these, around two thirds of remission applications in respect of issue fees were rejected which again raises access to justice issues.
It is also worth pointing out that since May 2014, ACAS Early Conciliation has become a compulsory requirement and anyone wishing to raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal must first notify ACAS with a view to conciliation taking place. This is also likely to have impacted on the figure but I am in no doubt that the overwhelming reason for the reduction in claims is the ET fee regime.
Two judicial review applications by Unison challenging the fee regime have been unsuccessful albeit Unison were given permission to appeal the latest decision. The Scottish Government has previously voiced their opposition to Tribunal fees which suggests that we could end up with a situation where there are no Tribunal fees for claims in Scotland but fees where the claim is raised in England & Wales.
The full Ministry of Justice Report can be found here: Tribunal Quarterly Statistics - October to December 2014