Employment tribunal fees back on the agenda
The Ministry of Justice has signalled that it is considering the reintroduction of fees for employment tribunal claims. Richard Heaton, permanent secretary at the MoJ, told a committee of MPs that he thought a fee system would become available that was progressive and did not charge those who could not afford to pay, whilst downplaying the suggestion that a new payment regime was imminent. Heaton told the House of Commons Justice select committee that the Supreme Court judgment that ended the fees regime did not “outlaw the concept of fees”, adding that a fee might be reintroduced at a lower level with a rebate scheme for those unable to afford it.
Meanwhile research by law firm GQ Littler has found that the average waiting time between the filing of a claim and a hearing reached 207 days in the 12 months to 31 March 2018, compared with 204 days in 2016/17 and 195 days in 2015/16.
The MoJ has responded by seeking to recruit 54 more employment tribunal judges to help handle the backlog of cases awaiting consideration and the rising number of new claims being made following the removal of fees. The number of employment claims received by the MoJ tripled to 53,696 in the three months between April and June this year.