The Ministry of Justice has just released its employment tribunal statistics for the 3 months to the end of June 2018, and they report a further large increase in employment tribunal claims being brought.
Substantial Increase In Employment Tribunal Claims
The findings of the latest quarterly Ministry of Justice report are as follows:-
- The number of single claims has doubled to 10,996 compared with the same quarter in 2017, an increase of 165%.
- The number of multiple claims quadrupled, with 42,700 new multiples being received, which represents an increase of 344% compared with a year earlier. One of the multiples related to 23,000 Claimants
- 10,891 claims were disposed of by the employment tribunals, an increase of 13% compared with the same quarter in 2017. There was a 13% fall in the number of multiples disposed of, but this was offset by a 56% increase in the number of disposals relating to single claims. Just 7% of the disposals related to Claimants who were successful at a hearing. 25% were concluded by way of an ACAS conciliated settlement, 26% of cases were withdrawn, 18% were dismissed upon withdrawal, and 9% were struck out. In the year to the end of June 2018, the mean age of disposals in relation to single claims was unchanged at 28 weeks, whilst there was a substantial fall in the mean age of multiples disposed of from 318 weeks to 133 weeks
- Since the introduction of the Employment Tribunal Fee Refund Scheme in October 2017, 14,525 applications for a refund have been received. There have been 12,432 refunds made, with a total value of £10,615,044.
- As we reported back in July 2018, 54 new judges are being recruited by the Judicial Appointments Commission to deal with a large backlog of cases caused by the increase in employment tribunal claims. The latest Ministry of Justice report bears out the need for the new judges, as the caseload outstanding increased by 130% in relation to single claims, and by 34% in relation to multiples
- The largest number of claims related to equal pay (7,972 cases), with disability discrimination claims receiving the highest awards (an average of £30,700.00)
- The number of appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal increased by 12% compared with a year earlier
- The number of unrepresented Claimants increased from 9% to 17%.
Could Employment Tribunal Fees Make A Comeback?
The large increase in employment tribunal claims is obviously related to the scrapping of employment tribunal fees. But could the despised fees ever make a comeback? One should never say never, but given the Supreme Courts decision, and given the fact that £10,615,044 has already been paid back in refunds, it would be an extremely foolish Government who ever tried to bring them back. And nor would they be classified as a comeback in the mold of Sinatra if they ever did return, as to pull that off you have to have been popular in the first place. Employment tribunal fees were overwhelmingly loathed and despised throughout their existence. However, as the Conservative Government has now lost its majority and with all its time being taken up by Brexit, the fees are highly unlikely to return any time soon. Nonetheless, that has not stopped talk about the possibility of a return. For instance, back in October 2017, David Lidington, the then Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (currently, the Minister for the Cabinet Office), advised the House of Commons Justice Select Committee, that: “We still intend to charge fees……I think it is necessary as a contribution to costs. It is also necessary and sensible as a deterrent to frivolous or vexatious litigation and that was something the court itself acknowledged….The key lesson that I took from the judgment was that fees are… a reasonable way in which to secure a contribution towards the running costs of the courts and tribunals service but that, in setting the level of fees, the government needs to be very careful in regard to questions of access and affordability.“