Statistics have been published by the Ministry of Justice showing the most up to date figures of the number and nature of Employment Tribunal claims raised in Scotland, England & Wales.
These statistics are of particular interest following the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees in July 2013. Since 29 July 2013, anyone wishing to raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal has required to pay an issue fee when lodging a claim and, before the claim proceeds to a full hearing, a hearing fee. The level of fee depends on what type of claim is being raised. A fee remission system is in place but statistics have revealed that the number of remissions granted are low.
Unison unsuccessfully challenged the fee regime before the High Court last year but the union's appeal is due to be heard on 18th September 2014. The timely publication of these statistics provides further strong evidence that the Tribunal fee system is denying access to justice. These statistics will increase the pressure on the government to reform the system and will almost certainly be used by Unison in their appeal.
The statistics show that the total number of cases received from August 2013 (after fees were introduced) until the end of March 2014 was 16,206 compared to 39,567 in the same 8 month period the previous year. This is a drop of 59%. The statistics for April 2014 to June 2014 show total claims lodged of 4245 compared to 13,899 in the same quarter the previous year. However the report points out that from April 2014 the figures were impacted by the introduction of Early Conciliation. This requires ACAS to be notified of any dispute before a claim can now be lodged. This is with a view to trying to settle the dispute. Individuals who previously could simply lodge a claim now have to normally wait up to one month until ACAS agree that they can do so. This time delay means that the latest quarterly figures are not directly comparable. However they still show a vey significant downward trend in the number of claims.
The more detailed statistics highlight some interesting trends.
The highest sum awarded by the Employment Tribunal in 2013-2014 was £3,402,245 and was awarded in an unfair dismissal claim. High awards were also made in claims arising from race discrimination, sex discrimination, disability discrimination and age discrimination.
The number of costs awards made by the Employment Tribunal in 2013-2014 has risen since last year. 889 costs awards were made compared to 651 last year. 647 of the costs awards were made in favour of respondents. Given the overall number of claims raised this demonstrates that Tribunals are still reluctant to make awards of costs. However, over the past few years there has been a year on year increase in the number of costs awards made so Tribunals are perhaps not as reluctant as they once were.
The maximum costs award was £58,022 The median figure is £1,000 (a decrease from last year's median figure of £1,842).
Below is a list of the maximum, median and average awards for unfair dismissal and discrimination claims:
|Maximum Award||Median Award||Average Award|
|Sexual orientation discrimination||£27,659||£6,824||£8,701|
You will notice from the figures above that the highest unfair dismissal award of £3,402,245 is in excess of the statutory cap of £76,574 but remember that this cap does not apply where the unfair dismissal is for whistleblowing or for raising certain health and safety issues.
The full report is available here.
You can see last year's statistics here: